Bahrain GP3: Kirchhofer wins as title contenders fade

Marvin Kirchhofer scored the fourth win of his 2015 GP3 Series campaign at Bahrain for ART Grand Prix to move into third place in the championship standings.

Bahrain GP3: Kirchhofer wins as title contenders fade

All eyes were on the battle between title contenders Esteban Ocon (ART) and Trident’s Luca Ghiotto, who started alongside each other on the front row – Ocon’s pole having given him a two-point lead in the standings.

Ocon smoked his tyres off the starting and led charge to first corner, chopping across the bows of Ghiotto, but was unable to keep the fast-starting Kirchhofer from passing them all down the inside.

Ocon and Ghiotto gave chase, with Kevin Ceccon fourth from Arden teammate Emil Bernstorff, Jimmy Eriksson and Jann Mardenborough.

Kirch led the opening lap by 0.8s over Ocon and Ghiotto, with Bernstorff moving past Ceccon for fourth.

Eriksson attacked Ceccon for fifth, as Mardenborough dropped back to ninth behind Artur Janosz and Alfonso Celis Jr.

Kirchhofer established a 1.6s lead by lap five, by which time Eriksson had battled past Ceccon at Turn 1, and Janosz did likewise exiting Turn 4.

Celis passed Ceccon for seventh on lap 14, but Mardenborough’s attempt to go around his outside at Turn 10 ended with him being bumped off the track.

Ocon began his bid for victory with six laps remaining, closing to within half a second, but Kirchhofer responded to keep him at bay.

Bernstorff also closed right up to Ghiotto as the race neared its conclusion, and outbraked him at Turn 1 to take third with three laps to go.

As Kirchhofer kept his cool out front, Ocon’s attentions were turned to keeping Bernstorff at bay to record what would remarkably have been his 10th consecutive second place finish in the series.

However, after an audacious move at Turn 4 failed, Bernstorff finally pulled it off exiting Turn 8 on the final lap.

Ghiotto faded to a distant fourth – despite setting fastest lap on the final tour – well clear of Eriksson and Janosz. Mardenborough tigered back up the order to seventh, ahead of Celis.

Before the race had started, Alex Palou was pushed off grid from P4.

Bahrain GP3 Race 1 results:

Pos Driver  Team   Time  Gap
 Marvin Kirchhofer ART Grand Prix 37'11.554  
 Emil Bernstorff Arden International 37'13.100 1.546
 Esteban Ocon ART Grand Prix 37'14.310 2.756
 Luca Ghiotto Trident 37'17.231 5.677
 Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen GP 37'21.971 10.417
 Artur Janosz Trident 37'24.877 13.323
 Jann Mardenborough Carlin 37'25.397 13.843
 Alfonso Celis ART Grand Prix 37'27.842 16.288
 Antonio Fuoco Carlin 37'29.740 18.186
10   Ralph Boschung Jenzer Motorsport 37'30.454 18.900
11   Matt Parry Koiranen GP 37'35.164 23.610
12   Matheo Tuscher Jenzer Motorsport 37'40.504 28.950
13   Sandy Stuvik Status Grand Prix 37'43.370 31.816
14   Kevin Ceccon Arden International 37'43.470 31.916
15   Mitch Gilbert Carlin 37'48.882 37.328
16   Seb Morris Status Grand Prix 37'49.447 37.893
17   Zaid Ashkanani Campos Racing 37'51.772 40.218
18   Konstantin Tereschenko Campos Racing 38'01.982 50.428
19   Alex Fontana Status Grand Prix 38'04.193 52.639
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