Narain Karthikeyan scored his maiden Auto GP win after on-track Silverstone victor Kevin Giovesi was given a one-minute post-race penalty.
Giovesi's Ghinzai Motorsport team was ruled to have made an illegal pitstop on the 14th and last lap. The series' sporting regulations state that mandatory pitstops can be made only between lap three and the penultimate lap.
Having switched from Zele Racing to Super Nova squad this weekend after a run of mechanical and operational issues put paid good results, Karthikeyan and the team hit the ground running and he was in crushing form from the outset.
The Indian set the fastest time in both free practice sessions on Friday morning and carried his pace into the afternoon's qualifying session, holding off the challenge from several drivers including his teammate Vittorio Ghirelli – the reigning European F3 champion.
As the lights went out for race one, Narain shot into the lead with front-row starter Kevin Giovesi and teammate Ghirelli, who had qualified P3, in hot pursuit. As the race progressed, it became a two-horse race as Karthikeyan and Giovesi carved an eight-second gap over the rest of the field by the mid-way mark.
Comfortably in the lead, Narain pitted for his mandatory tyre change with a 1.6 second advantage on lap 12 of 14. But even switching teams didn’t seem to improve Narain’s ill-luck with pitstops, and the Indian was a delayed by four seconds as the front-left wheel proved troublesome to fit.
His immediate rival Giovesi pitted on the following lap and as expected, came out of the pits ahead of Karthikeyan. Despite struggling with some front tyre warmup issues, he challenged the Italian GP2 racer for the lead but Giovesi managed to cross the line three-tenths ahead.
Later though, the Italian was handed a one-minute post-race penalty as he was deemed to have made his pitstop on the final lap, which is forbidden by the regulations.