August 28, 2017

Battling performance from Kari at Spa-Francorchamps

Arden Motorsport endured a battling GP3 Series weekend at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps Circuit

Red Bull Junior Team GP3 Driver Niko Kari put on a battling performance at Spa-Francorchamps for Arden Motorsport. Leonardo Pulcini and Steijn Schothorst always came through the field well after a tricky wet and damp qualifying session compounded the weekend for the Arden trio.

The iconic Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium hosted GP3 Series in their return from the summer break. The heavens opened late on Saturday, shortly after qualifying for the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix took place. This led to a wet session for the GP3 trio in Timed Qualfying.

Schothorst managed to put his Arden GP3 Dallara machine 8th in the times after a strong late final effort - where the wet tyres were not lasting the entire lap due to the greasy nature of the circuit and no intermediate tyres available for the GP3 teams.

Pulcini and Kari were denied the chance too improve their times as the weather conditions improved, but the track conditions remained treacherous - as they qualified 15th and 16th respectively.

Race One took place in now dry conditions, all Arden's drivers made a solid start as they drove funnelled through La Source, Eau Rouge and onto the Kemmel Straight. Kari was making immediate progress coming through the field, with Pulcini following through as they began their hunt for the top ten and points positions.

Schothorst made a good getaway from his 8th place starting berth, however was pushed out wide and unable to move forward in the early stages.
As the race wore on, DRS was made available to the drivers with the maximum six uses applied. Kari used the DRS to great effect, cutting through the pack well and setting a strong pace - teamed with some aggressive overtakes to make up ground. Pulcini managed to make similar progress as they came through the field well, managing their tyres for the 17 lap race well in order to still challenge at the end of the race.

Kari crossed the line in 9th position, taking two points for his efforts. Pulcini just missed out on points in 11th and Schothorst took 13th position at the chequered flag.

Race two saw Kari make a great getaway - pulling off a bold double overtake into Les Combes, overtaking the championship leader George Russell in the process to move himself up to 7th position early on. Kari continued to make up ground, harried by the championship leader - he was unfazed as he moved up to as high as 4th position as the race progressed.

Pulcini and Schothorst were embroiled in their own intra-team battle for 11th position as they attempted to close in on Raoul Hyman infront, whilst defending from the two DAMS drivers behind.

Kari was under threat from Nirei Fukuzumi in the closing stages of the race. The Red Bull Junior had used all his DRS allocation, leading to robustly defending his position from the ART Driver and Honda Junior. Fukuzumi eventually pushed his way past Kari on the Kemmel Straight - taking to the grass in the process.
The race finished with Kari crossing the line 6th, Pulcini 11th and Schothorst 12th. Kari was however hit with a 5 second time penalty for his defensive on Fukuzumi, meaning he finished the race in 9th position.

Niko Kari "In Race 1 and I was happy enough with the way that went. The positive point of the weekend was the recovery from a bad starting positions in the races and it showed that the pace was there. We didn't get the results we wanted but we learnt again and we can do more in Italy next weekend."

The next round of the GP3 Series takes place in just one week's time in Monza, Italy on the 2-3 September. Arden Motorsport are currently 5th overall in the Teams Championship, with Kari the lead Arden Driver with 9th overall in the Drivers Championship.

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