GP3 Round 6, Race 1 Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, August 23rd 2014. Dean Stoneman delivered a stunning performance today at a damp Spa circuit to secure a valuable victory in GP3, which now put his championship hopes back on track.
Racing for the first time at the famous Belgium circuit, the 24 year old was unfazed as he dominated the first of two races in tricky wet conditions.
Starting from the 6th row of the grid, Stoneman took the inspired move to start the 13-lap race on slick tyres. This move triggered a number of other drivers moving away from the safe wet option on a slowly drying track, but in the face of an advancing wet weather system which was threatening to move in once again as it had for most the day. It was a move that was to pay off for the Southampton driver.
As the lights went out at the start Stoneman managed to make an excellent start and avoid a number of collisions going on around him. With more drivers coming in to make the move to dry tyres, Stoneman was already starting to make up places and by the middle of the race was up to 7th place. Feeling there was much more to be achieved Stoneman continued to push and gain further places with a series of brilliant overtaking moves.
With just seven laps to go Stoneman was up to 2nd and chasing down the leader. Then, just two laps later the lead car of Tuscher made an error on the exit of Eau Rouge. The spinning car left the track and spun back on to it narrowly missing the number 16 Marussia Manor car of Stoneman as he shot through to grab the lead. Stoneman’s increasing advantage was only pegged back when the safety car was deployed as further drivers struggled in the greasy conditions. As the safety car returned to the pit lane, Stoneman opened up a healthy lead for the remaining laps and despite a further safety car and some confusion at the end of the race it was Stoneman who was the victor following a peerless performance at his first ever visit to one of the most demanding circuits on the GP3 calendar.
A clearly delighted Stoneman reflected on his victory. “ That has to be one of the most satisfying wins of my career. I came here with no experience of this circuit at all. The conditions were the worst kind, wet then damp and partly dry. It’s a set up nightmare, really hard to call, but I spoke to my engineer Pete Berry and we decided to go with slicks, I think we were the first to do so. It worked well and I’m delighted it came off.”
Stoneman also secured a further championship point by posting the fastest lap of the 13- lap race.
Round 6, Race 2 starts Sunday 08:25 GMT. The race is also shown live on Sky Sports F1.
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