Saturday morning, Tio Ellinas claimed his debut pole in the category with a lap of 1:41.858 to line up ahead of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Oliver Rowland, Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) and Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing) on the starting grid.
Ellinas in the lead, Vaxiviere and Rowland battling
At the start, Tio Ellinas authoritatively held on to the lead ahead of Jazeman Jaafar, Oliver Rowland and Matthieu Vaxiviere. The French driver managed to overtake the leader in the general classification at the beginning of lap two. Further back on the grid, Nick Yelloly (Lotus) and Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing) remained blocked on the grid, as was Alfonso Celis (AVF) before the formation lap. Just after the start Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Dean Stoneman (DAMS) had to call it a day.
Hard battle behind Ellinas
Tio Ellinas steadily pulled away from Jazeman Jaafar, who was under threat from Matthieu Vaxiviere. On lap seven, Oliver Rowland was able to make the most of the situation to surprise the Frenchman. After losing the tip of his nose cone, Matthieu Vaxiviere dropped a position to Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) a lap later. On lap 10, Tom Dillmann got the better of Oliver Rowland, who not only recovered the spot but also overtook Jazeman Jaafar. Two laps later Matthieu Vaxiviere got past the Malay native.
All alone out front, Tio Ellinas won with an eight second margin of victory from Oliver Rowland and Matthieu Vaxiviere. The highest placed rookie, Nyck de Vries finished just off the podium. Tom Dillmann was fifth, ahead of Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing), Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport), Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport) and Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing), who started shotgun on the field. Jazeman Jaafar managed to salvage one point in crossing the line in 10th place.
Tio Ellinas : “The past two weeks have been difficult as I lost my grandfather. I dedicate this win to him. The weekend started well, but we have struggled since the start of the year to convert our speed in practice into podiums. The start was a bit tricky and I felt a little bit of contact with Jazeman, but I then was able to create a gap. This victory is good for the team and me. I hope to continue the season like this and join the top three as Oliver and Matthieu are very strong.”
Oliver Rowland : “The start was a bit difficult and I think I was lucky to finish the opening lap. Then I had to defend, attack and find a place in each corner. And then I found an opening on Tom and Jazeman and this let me get through, although I had to attack as much as possible to keep Matthieu at distance.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere : “Tio did a perfect job at the start. For my part, it wasn’t really good, I tried to catch up to Oliver as quickly as possible, but then we were in a group with Tom, Oliver and Jazeman. It was a nice fight between us. I particularly liked the battle with Oliver, even though I lost. I will have another chance tomorrow.”
Provisional general classification * : 1. O. Rowland – 184 points, 2. M. Vaxiviere – 155, 3. J. Jaafar – 91, 4. D. Stoneman – 86, 5. N. de Vries – 83… *Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications