Pole sitter Felix Perez and 3rd place qualifier Oleksandr Zozulya headlined the retirements in the FV2 Feature Race at Jerez, as James Vasquez had to use all the tricks in the bag to hold off Viktor Ostberg and Hunter Ryan to notch up his first win of the season.
It was Felix Perez who scored the perfect start from pole position, and he had 2 car lengths on Oleksandr Zozulya who jumped Vasquez into Turn 1. Hunter Ryan showed his smarts in overtaking Ostberg around the outside of Turn 3, whilst James Thompson wasn’t so lucky whilst trying a similar maneuver on Brittany Johnson. He got offline and just clipped the wall, destroying his suspension and ruling him out of proceedings.
In France it was Thompson, today it was Elnur Aliyev driving the train as drivers found it difficult to overtake without the Mistral Straight from France. That said, Andrey Kerzhakov made a blunder on Lap 4 coming onto the pit straight, allowing de la Fuente to jump him before Turn 1. Otso Toivonen managed to go down the inside of Kerzhakov and in doing so was also able to go up the inside of de la Fuente at Turn 1, and jump from 10th to 8th.
Overtaking was proving to be not as easy at Jerez in comparison to Paul Ricard. That didn't apply to Alexander McLaughlin, who was overtaking drivers for fun from 19th on the grid, approaching the half-way stage he was already up to 13th, and that became 12th with a move on Sergio Alvarez at the final corner. Behind, Zander Brynildsen tried to go around the outside of Mike Fredrickson Jr at the dame corner, but to no avail.
Now that he wasn't on FV duties, Viktor Ostberg began to look more aggressive in his racing style. He was all over the back of Hunter Ryan ever since the start, and finally got past at Turn 2, up the inside of the Australian and back into 4th place, but 8 seconds off third placed Zozulya at the time.
Ellenor Haugland was starting to come under severe pressure from McLaughlin for P11, until her gearbox failed exiting Turn 11. Fortunately he was able to return to the pitlane, but had to retire on the spot and join Thompson on the sidelines. With his DNF, and an overtake from Rodolfo de la Fuente on Otso Toivonen and Niklaus Holzberg in the space of 4 corners, the pecking order looked like this at the halfway mark:
A small lull in proceedings wasn't going to be enough to stop Alexander McLaughlin, who gained another place, this time on Andrey Kerzhakov. The wind from qualifying isn't as severe, but it looked to catch out the Russian as he had a moment of oversteer just before getting overtaken/
Speaking of the wind, it picked up again, and Felix Perez locked the front left at Turn 1 and ran off track, allowing James Vasquez into the lead. Oleksandr was looking a certainty to take 2nd, but a snap of oversteer saw him collide with Perez, and both drivers are out of the race. Scenes there at Turn 1 as 1st and 3rd crashed out of the race! Ostberg and Ryan were promoted to 2nd and 3rd, and after a double DNF in France, Elnur Aliyev now ran 4th. No need for a safety car but both drivers livid with each other.
Another driver who would've been livid was Mike Fredrickson Jr, who lost more than an enplate due to a piece of debris on track. No other drivers reported issues as they coasted through the yellow flag zone.
Due to the yellow flags at Turn 1 it became apparent Turn 5 would become the most viable overtaking spot, as well as the final corner. The opportunity wasn't taken advantage of by Steven Kasami, who was rather clumsy in hitting Lucio Valente as he tried to go up the inside, forcing both drivers out of the race as well! This incident brought out the safety car with just 8 laps remaining! This could throw a spanner in the works for the drivers who haven't managed their tyres as well as others.
The safety car came in with 5 laps to go. Top 10 at the time was Vasquez, Ostberg, Ryan, Elnur Aliyev, de la Fuente, Holzberg, Toivonen, Johnson, McLaughlin and Andrey Kerzhakov.
In came the safety car, and it was already up the inside for McLaughlin on Brittany Johnson at Turn 1. A nominee for Driver of the Day who had made it from 19th to 8th, and that became 7th as he overtook Otso Toivonen for 7th at Turn 7! An inspired performance from the Canadian!
A little further up the road Azeri driver Elnur Aliyev had made his car as wide as the circuit, until finally he cracked with 2 laps to go, with Rodolfo de la Fuente finally getting past and into 4th place. Sergio Alvarez got a move in on Kerzhakov at the same moment to sneak into the Top 10. Behind them in P13 Zander Brynildsen wasn't giving away reverse pole to anybody, the Norwegian giving no space to the drivers behind him!
Final lap and Hunter Ryan is now under pressure form de la Fuente for the final step on the podium. Vasquez and Ostberg are 2 seconds apart, but Ryan's mirrors were full of the Spanish Armada as he navigated the final lap.
Just behind, McLaughlin made yet another overtake, now into P6 after getting a rare slipstream on Niklaus Holzberg on the back straight, getting the move done well before the next corner.
Hunter Ryan just looks to have the measure now on de la Fuente as they end the race behind James Vasquez, who gets his 2017 campaign back on track after a retirement in Spain, as does Viktor Ostberg in 2nd place. Behind Ryan and de la Fuente, Elnur Aliyev managed to hold on and secure P5. Further back, it was Zander Brynildsen who was able to maintain his position and
That's all for today, we'll see you back here again tomorrow for the Sprint Race, with Zander Brynildsen looking to convert pole into his first victory of the 2017 campaign!