With the anticipation for the French V-Prix building, fans flocked in early to catch the final race of the FV2 series. Niklaus Holzberg dominated the sprint race, winning by an impressive 12 seconds, which was only possible after taking reverse pole late in yesterday's race.
The grid went as follows:
The race started well for almost everybody. Looking toward the midfield James Vasquez had not moved after the lights went out. He would be forced to retire as his car would not cooperate.
Andrey Kerzhakov made the best start out of the Top 10, jumping from 5th to 3rd off the line with a solid getaway. Further back, the likes of Ӧstberg and van der Straten were showing their craft, slicing through the back of the field after failing to finish in the feature race yesterday.
Mike Fredrickson proved unable to join them as he pulled over with similar gremlins to yesterday's race. He looked livid as he left the car, and almost looked to attack the barrier to ventilate his frustration.
Felix Perez, who took the fastest lap in yesterday's race, could only watch Hunter Ryan this time around, until the Australian made a successful move on Rodolfo de la Fuente. That is until Perez enters the Mistral straight and overtakes both of the drivers to proceed into 10th position.
Standings at a third's race distance:
The Thompson Train is in full effect again today, as the train started to grow yet again. Today however the train became thwarted quickly as Otso Toivonen hit the afterburners and overtook Thompson, Haugland and Brittany Johnson all in the one lap!
Brittany Johnson was so startled to see Otso flash out from behind her she momentarily swerved off the track onto the kerbs. She looks like she's slowing down though, her suspension didn't agree with the treatment one bit, and she pulled over just past the start/finish straight to retire.
Many were surprised Alexander McLaughlin was still running around in last. It was clear he still had some gremlins following yesterday's racing incident on the opening lap with Ӧstberg. He pulled in to the garage to retire and suffer a double DNF.
Speaking of the young Swede, he was up from 22nd to 14th as the race ticked past halfway. Could be preparing himself for the FV later today with that form as he starts that event from P19.
The other driver making his FV debut today, Oleksandr Zozulya, couldn't stop Hunter Ryan and Felix Perez from charging through past him. On the next lap the Ukrainian almost pulled back ahead of the Aussie, but was not quite able to get the chocolates.
Last place could be turning into a curse this race. Aleksandr Hadzic was the next driver alongside McLaughlin to retire from last place, this time gearbox issues were the cause.
With that retirement, these were the standings coming into the final third of the sprint race:
Hunter Ryan turned on the rocket boosters in the final laps. In the short span of time he managed to fly past Perez, Alvarez and Haugland! He then tried an audacious move on Otso Toivonen at Turn 1 but he pulled off a great overtake.
Cashing in right behind him was Oleksandr Zozulya. All of a sudden Ryan and he run 4th and 5th respectively, they've carved to the front of the battle, and are pulling away as the others struggle with rear tyre wear. In the end of it all, Toivonen has dropped to 7th behind Perez, then Alvarez, Haugland and de la Fuente ends the train in P10. Perez in all the congestion somehow sets the fastest lap of the race as well, it could be 2 from 2 for the young Mexican!
2 people who didn't have to worry about fastest laps in the meantime are the Aliyev brothers, who have simultaneously stopped and retired from the race, Ikram with a brake issue and Elnur with a lack of power.
No power issues up front for the poleman today though. Niklaus Holzberg crossed the line to take victory over Steven Kasami, which proved to be false as Andrey Kerzhakov threw one up the inside at the final corner to steal second! What a move! And what a way to cap off a thrilling finish to the weekend!
Full results below:
So that caps off the first round of FV2 for 2017. We've enjoyed every second of it, and we hope you did too. Now sit back, enjoy the French V-Prix, and we'll see you again in 2 weeks at the Spanish V-Prix at Jerez in Spain!