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October 10, 2017

Kari denied a battling GP3 podium at Jerez

Red Bull Junior Niko Kari was denied 3rd on the podium after being penalised for a late race clash in the second GP3 Race of the weekend at Jerez.

Red Bull Junior Niko Kari was denied 3rd on the podium after being penalised for a late race clash in the second GP3 Race of the weekend at Jerez.

The GP3 Series headed to Jerez, Spain for races 13-14 of the 2017 Championship - in a standalone event alongside FIA Formula 2 and the EuroFormula Open Championship.

Qualifying took place in hot conditions with the medium and hard Pirelli tyres brought to the abrasive Jerez Circuit. Kari was the head Arden Motorsport runner through most of the season, sitting in the top five for the majority of the season, before a final flurry of laps saw him eventually classified 7th fastest in the session. Steijn Schothorst qualified 10th fastest and Leonardo Pulcini ended up 16th fastest after being baulked on his final flying lap.

Kari moved up to 6th position after a great start, with Schothorst maintaining his 10th position from the start and Pulcini moving up to 15th position.
The race became all about tyre management on the technical circuit, with all drivers careful of keeping their tyres in good condition throughout the race.
At half distance, Kari remained the lead Arden runner in 6th position, with Schothorst running in 11th and Pulcini continuing to move himself up the order to 14th position. Kari continued to push on, surviving a minor off-track scare to remain in 6th position.

The pack began to bunch back up in the closing stages of the race. Kari had cemented a managable gap behind to him to cross the line in 6th position, with Schothorst just missing out on points in 11th position at the chequered flag and Pulcini finishing the race in 14th.

The reverse grid nature of the second race meant Kari would start from 3rd on the grid, with his teammates Schothorst and Pulcini starting where they finished in the opening race.
Kari maintained 3rd position through the opening sequence of corners, completing the first lap just ahead of the ART GP driver of Anthoine Hubert. The pressure on Kari was relieved slightly after Hubert made an error going onto the straight allowed Dan Ticktum in the DAMS through to 4th position. At this point in the race, Schothorst remained in 11th place whilst Pulcini had elevated himself into 13th position.
Schothorst sucumbed to the DRS being activating as Tatiana Calderon moved up into 11th, with Pulcini just behind his teammate now.

At half distance, Kari was within DRS range of Dorian Boccolacci's Trident as he challenged him for 2nd position, with Ticktum also within DRS range of him just behind in 4th position in the battle for the podium spots. Schothorst and Pulcini remained in an intra-team battle for 12th position.

Tyre wear began to become a factor in the closing stages, as on lap 13 Kari had dropped out of DRS activation range behind Boccolacci, but Ticktum remained large in his mirrors just behind and pressuring him for 3rd position.
Kari was forced to defend hard into turn one as they started lap 14. Kari ran deep on the exit and Ticktum put his nose up the inside into turn two. The pair continued to battle side by side, before contact was made going through the left hander at turn three - spinning Ticktum into the gravel whilst Kari continued on in 3rd position with slight damage.

The safety car was deployed, setting up a dramatic conclusion to race two in Jerez. The restart was made with a one-lap shootout between all the drivers. Kari managed to hold off the attention of Hubert on the restart to tighten his grip on 3rd position, whilst Pulcini and Schothorst battled coming down the hill on the back straight in a late bid to improve their positions.

As the chequered flag fell after a dramatically tense final lap, Kari crossed the line in 3rd position and a spot on the podium. After the celebrations however, he was penalised for being deemed to have caused the collision with Ticktum - demoting him to the back of the classified finishers. Schothorst was classified in 10th position and Pulcini in 11th. The ART GP and Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior Driver George Russell took the GP3 Series Driver's Championship in the process.

The final round of the 2017 GP3 Series takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi for the final two races of the championship on the 24-26 November.
GP3 will be once again running alongside the Formula One World Championship and FIA Formula 2 Championships, with both races and qualifying sessions live on Sky Sports F1 HD to catch all the action from the season finale.

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