AutoGP Brno: Sato wins as Ghirelli takes title

AutoGP Brno: Sato wins as Ghirelli takes title

8th Oct 2013 9:26 pm

Second-placed finisher Narain Karthikeyan was disqualified due to broken front wing and hence finished fourth in the championship.

An inspired Kimiya Sato did everything he could to claim the Auto GP title by winning the season finale at Brno, but could not stop third-placed Vittorio Ghirelli becoming champion.

Sato's fifth victory of the season provides the Japanese racer the consolation of sharing the year's top win tally with Narain Karthikeyan.

But the Euronova Racing man would fall seven points short of Ghirelli (pictured top) in the final standings.

Brno race one winner Karthikeyan finished second on the road in the decider, but fell foul of the race officials for failing to come into the pits when shown a black and orange flag.

After making his mandatory pitstop, Karthikeyan incurred a deranged front-wing when trying to pass a stubborn Francesco Dracone, who had yet to make a pit call.

Super Nova team manager John Sears said that problematic screens on the pitwall had made it difficult for the team to relay messages to Karthikeyan.

The ex-Formula 1 driver's disqualification promoted early-season championship leader Sergio Campana to second position and Ghirelli to the final step of the podium.

Formula Renault 3.5 graduate Ghirelli played it safe in the early laps, circulating in eighth place as the last car in a train behind third-place runner Andrea Roda.

Ghirelli would also encounter difficultly passing former Super Nova driver Dracone, but unlike Karthikeyan, who required a victory to maintain his championship hopes this afternoon, Ghirelli took comfort in the knowledge that a top-five result would deliver his maiden title in car racing.

From fifth on the reversed-grid, Sato had made a flier away from the lights and braved the outside line at Turn 1 to challenge Andrea Roda for the lead.

Campana also passed Roda before the opening tour was complete, and initially appeared to have the measure of Sato on pace. But the anticipated duel at the front of the field fizzled out when Sato began to stretch his advantage after four laps.

Former Italian Formula 3 champion Campana elected for a relatively late pit strategy, and dropped behind a charging Karthikeyan when he rejoined the fray on lap 13.

Roda equalled his best result of the season in fourth, ahead of Tamas Pal Kiss and Kevin Giovesi.
Brno Auto GP 2013Ghinzani Motorsport's team manager was called to race control during the race after Giovesi was suspected of making a pitstop before the pit window had opened, but the Italian's sixth-place appears safe.

The only retirement was posted by Giovesi's Ghinzani team-mate Robert Visoiu, who left the track at Turn 1.

Reversed-grid polesitter Roberto La Rocca was never in contention. The rookie, who joined the championship for round six at the Nurburgring, bogged down with wheelspin at the start and would complete the opening lap in fourth, thereafter slipping down the order.

Results - 16 laps:

Pos  Driver               Team               Time/Gap
 1.  Kimiya Sato          Euronova         28m48.297s
 2.  Sergio Campana       Ibiza              +15.625s
 3.  Vittorio Ghirelli    Super Nova         +21.678s
 4.  Andrea Roda          Virtuosi           +22.647s
 5.  Tamas Pal Kiss       Zele               +25.126s
 6.  Kevin Giovesi        Ghinzani           +25.752s
 7.  Roberto La Rocca     Comtec/Virtuosi    +27.015s
 8.  Daniel de Jong       Manor MP           +29.254s
 9.  Meindert van Buuren  Manor MP           +35.112s
10.  Maxim Snegirev       Virtuosi           +35.774s
11.  Yoshitaka Kuroda     Euronova           +42.051s
12.  Josef Kral           Zele               +43.703s
13.  Michela Cerruti      MLR 71             +52.866s
14.  Francesco Dracone    Ibiza              +59.312s
15.  Michele La Rosa      MLR 71           +1m39.425s


     Narain Karthikeyan   Super Nova          16 laps
     Robert Visoiu        Ghinzani             7 laps
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