In a race where the Top 5 were separated by 2 seconds, and where the lead felt like it changed every other lap, it was Sergio Alvarez who was able to hold off James Vasquez to win the Feature Race at Hockenhiem.
The driver who wasn't laughing at the start was Henri Aliagas, who after putting in a brilliant lap to secure 4th, couldn't get the car off the line and fell to 9th by the first corner. As Vasquez led Alvarez and Viktor Ostberg round the first corners, it was Ikram Aliyev Luuk van der Straten who had made the best jumps, climbing 3 places each to run 4th and 5th respectively.
Further back, Steven Kasami was also looking racy, having just overtaken Zozulya and McLaughlin, but halfway around lap 2 going into Turn 8, he hit the curb and cannoned into the side of Brittany Johnson. Both were able to make it back to pit lane, but retired due to damage.
In the early stages it was becoming the Zander Brynildsen show as he began overtaking cars at will, including a double overtake on Dominic Hanson and Niklaus Holzberg at the hairpin and into 17th position.
Up front, it was neck and neck between the Top 3, as Vasquez had Sergio Alvarez on his inside, and Viktor Ostberg going round his outside going into the hairpin. The first of many duels for the lead saw Alvarez pull ahead, and although Ostberg tried to switch back on Vasquez, it gave the Colombian the inside line for the next braking zone, allowing him to hold onto second ahead of the Swede.
It was very close between the drivers behind them as well. Ikram Aliyev was starting to create a train behind him, including the likes of Perez, de la Fuente and Ryan. Luuk van der Straten became the first driver to attempt an overtake on the Azeri driver, but his efforts only saw him run wide despite making the overtake. This compromised Aliyev, allowing Perez to pass the both of them, but then de la Fuente came through to pass the trio! Aliyev was forced to defend from Valente and Ryan, and did so successfully.
The same couldn't be said for the drivers with Zander Brynildsen in his mirrors. The Nord just set the fastest lap, and in doing so swept past Otso Toivonen on the Parabolica, well before the braking zone for the hairpin. Toivonen on the other hand had been on the team radio labelling his machine as a "2nd hand road car" as he struggled in 17th place.
Although qualifying 4th it was clear Henri Aliagas was struggling in the race. he had Zozulya, Fredrickson Jr, Elnur Aliyev and McLaughlin all within touching distance. A small error entering the straight allowed Zozulya through into 10th, but none of the drivers behind him were able to capitalise, leading to these standings at the halfway point:
The squabbling for the lead had allowed de la Fuente to catch them at a rate of knots. Vasquez moved back into the lead, as Ostberg followed him through to 2nd for a few moments, as exiting the hairpin the young Spaniard threw his car alongside Alvarez, and by braking late was able to get ahead, but ran himself wide, clipping Ostberg and forcing him down to 4th as he caught his car, allowing Alvarez somehow to get back to 2nd!
Unfortunately further back for Zander Brynildsen, his entertaining race came to an abrupt end as his bent his a steering arm after taking too much kerb. He pitted only for his engine to suddenly began chucking plumes of smoke into the air as he entered pit lane, forcing him out of running for the day.
The Ikram Aliyev train was started to become the van der Straten train, with the Dutchman in 6th leading cars all the way back to Aliagas in 11th. Starting a new lap, van der Straten had a half spin at the first corner, and made a miracle work his way to avoid the barriers! He was demoted to the back of the train, but quickly got back past Aliagas on the next lap following another small but costly error from the New Caledonian position.
The error from van der Straten however allowed Hunter Ryan to get a mega run on Valente and Ikram Aliyev. Ryan managed to out-brake the latter into the second corner, and scored himself a brilliant slipstream on the Portuguese rookie to also overrtake him under brakes, this time into the hairpin. Just like that the Australian moved into 6th position.
It took her a while, but finally Ellenor Haugland was able to show some pace, dispatching 5 cars in the space of 4 laps, including series rookies Holzberg and Toivonen as she charged into 16th as the race came toward the closing stages.
One would imagine after all the drama, Vasquez would be able to pull away. That wasn't the case. Sergio Alvarez had dropped de la Fuente and Ostberg, both with minor damage following their coming together. Alvarez with 3 laps to go was right on Vasquez's tail, forcing him to go defensive into the first corner! Alvarez used his traction to get alongside Vasquez who was still defending the inside like his life depended on it. Alvarez broke later into Turn 2 and completed a thrilling overtake around the outside to take the lead!
It wasn't over yet, as back came Vasquez on the Parabolica! He pulled a massive dive on the Argentinine to take back the lead at the hairpin! Scenes at Hockenhiem! 2 laps to go and the leaders are going crazy hard at the victory!
Just behind them, a struggling Viktor Ostberg was no match for Felix Perez, as the Mexican took 4th place away from him. With a lap and a half to go it looked clear that de la Fuente would hold onto 3rd, whilst Perez would pull away from Ostberg for 4th.
The battle remained on for the lead as Vasquez ran wide exiting the hairpin! It allowed Alvarez to get alongside, he had the insdie line for the kink of Turn 7, but Turn 8 he'd have to go around the outside. The Argentine was late on the brakes again, and this time was able to make the move stick infront of the Mercedes-Benz stand. What a fantastic duel between the two up and coming South American drivers!
Alvarez continued around to take the chequered flag to complete a thrilling Feature Race at Hockenhiem, making it 5 different winners in the first 5 races! Vasquez can only ask himself what could've been, as the win was only half a lap away, as he led home de la Fuente, Perez, Ostberg, Hunter Ryan, and Oleksandr Zozulya, who took the fastest lap of the race on his final tour of the circuit. Further back, Henri Aliagas did continuw to lose places, but it resulted in him securing reverse pole for the sprint race! Full results below:
* Reverse Pole