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July 10, 2017

Arden GP3 trio thwarted despite strong qualifying at Red Bull Ring

Leonardo Pulcini, Stejin Schothorst and Niko Kari were denied the results their pace warranted in Spielberg.

Arden Motorsport GP3 Drivers Leonardo Pulcini, Stejin Schothorst and Niko Kari were denied the results their pace warranted in Spielberg - after an opening lap collision caused by a rival drivers saw Pulcini and Schothorst eliminated early on, whilst Kari was tipped into a spin at turn one leading to a subsequent retirement. Race two was compromised from the misfortune of the opening race.

After taking a brilliant podium in the opening round of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya, Pulcini maintained his strong form by being the lead Arden driver in qualifying for the third race of the season at the Red Bull Ring. Pulcini set a 1:19.258s lap that put him 4th on the grid, just over a tenth off pole position. Teammate Schothorst was just behind him with the 5th fastest time and only a couple of hundreths slower, making it two Arden drivers in the top 5. Red Bull Junior Niko Kari was less fortunate with his track position, setting the 9th fastest time of the session after just missing out on getting a final lap in.

The start of the first race of the weekend saw all drivers get a good launch, however Kari was hit from behind and left facing the wrong way - rejoining in 18th position. Pulcini and Schothorst came out of turn one in 3rd and 4th after making a great start to pass rival Dorian Boccolacci. Into the braking zone for turn three however, ART driver Anthoine Hubert made a late lunge up the inside of Pulcini, making contact with him and pushing him into teammate Schothorst - the latter being sent airborne due to the contact.
Pulcini was forced to retire on the spot with suspension damage, whilst Schothorst limped on with a leaking radiator unknown to him. The result saw water cover the racing line and the slippery surface flags deployed - Schothorst was forced to the retire due to the damage a couple of laps later. Hubert was given a 10 second time penalty for causing the accident, however this was little consolation as both Arden drivers were denied a chance to battle for the podium spots and the race win due to the actions at turn three.
Kari began to make progress to attempt and recover from his incident at the start - however he too was forced to retire on lap fourteenth from 14th position.

The Arden trio were forced to start from the back of the grid in the second race of the weekend. Kari would start 17th, Schothorst 19th and Pulcini 20th. Kari and Schothorst had to take avoiding action at the start, but as things settled down, the trio began to make progress. They crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in 13th, 15th and 17th respectively after managing the traffic well.
Kari began to make good progress through the field, taking two drivers within five laps at turn three to get himself up to 11th position. The flying Finn however suffered from a technical problem on lap eleven coming down the hill, taking him out of the race.

The remaining laps saw Pulcini and Schothorst make ground up to 15th amd 16th position, before a last lap collision up ahead with rivals Alessio Lorandi and Dorian Boccolacci gained them both a further position. They crossed the line in 14th and 15th respectively.

Overall it was a very frustrating weekend for the Arden team, as the opening lap of race one saw the team go from a very strong position with two cars fighting for the podium position - taken out it one fell swoop, which compounded their second races of the weekend starting out of position. Kari was denied by mechanical issues despite a very strong fightback in race two but will be back in just one weeks time for Rounds 5-6.

Silverstone plays hosted to the next round of the 2017 GP3 Series on the 13-16 July. This will be the home race for Arden Motorsport as they aim to hit back strongly from their Red Bull Ring misfortunes.

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