July 17, 2017

Kari takes maiden GP3 podium at Silverstone

Red Bull Junior Driver Niko Kari made a strong showing at Silverstone, taking a 6th and 3rd position in the two GP3 races

Arden Motorsport took a home podium in the GP3 Series thanks to Red Bull Junior Team Driver Niko Kari, who took 3rd position in the second race of the weekend at Silverstone, following up his impressive first race result where he was battling for a podium all race long.

Kari led the Arden trio in the qualifying session held on Friday late in the afternoon around the high speed Silverstone Circuit. Kari set the 6th fastest time of the session. Teammates Leonardo Pulcini and Stejin Schothorst lined up 14th and 15th on the grid after experiencing a more difficult session in the cooler track conditions.

Race one saw Kari make a lightning start, jumping up three positions into 3rd position after they all swooped through the first sector of the circuit, before settling down as they exited Luffield. Kari held onto the back of championship leader George Russell and race leader Anthoine Hubert as the DRS became available to the drivers on the third lap of the race. Russell ahead made a move on Hubert but Kari was just out of reach to be able to capitalise and follow him through.
Meanwhile Pulcini was embroiled in a tight battle as he came through the pack, forced off the track by a rival but still made ground up to 13th position. Schothorst however was less fortunate after being ran wide off line, albeit maintained his starting position.

Lap 15 saw a driver stop on track with a technical issue on the run into Copse corner. This required a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) to be deployed and the field bunched up running to a time delta. At this time Kari was still running in 3rd position, Pulcini in 12th and Schothorst in 16th position. The action resumed on lap 16 right in the middle of Luffield - this caught Kari out as Alessio Lorandi managed to get the jump on him on the run into Copse corner, demoting the Finn to 4th position. Pulcini gained a place to 11th and Schothorst also gained a position up to 15th.

On the penultimate lap, Kari was out of DRS usage and was overtaken by Dorian Boccolacci and Jack Aitken who made full advantage of the extra straight line pace. Kari crossed the line in 6th position, with teammates Pulcini and Schothorst taking 11th and 14th positions respectively. Kari was later elevated to 5th after a penalty was applied to one of his rivals for a VSC offense.

The second race of the weekend, held in the early hours of Sunday morning saw Kari start from fourth on the grid. This would become third after pole sitter Boccolacci failed to make it to the starting grid. Kari held 4th position through the opening stages of the race, attacking Arjun Maini for 3rd position immediately. Pulcini moved up to 9th position after a good start and Schothorst also made a great start to get up to 11th.

Kari made his move on Maini on the third lap to move himself up in the podium places after a move into Vale corner. Schothorst was taken out of the race by Julian Falchero after the latter tried to defend his position and ran into the rear of the Arden driver, taking both out of the race on lap 4. This triggered a safety car period.

The safety car pulled in on lap 7 - Kari applied pressure to Aitken for 2nd position as he stuck to his gearbox down the Wellington Straight, to no avail this time around. Behind him, Maini was acting as a cork in the bottle to the cars behind - allowing the leading trio to build a gap. Championship leader George Russell finally managed to pass Maini and caught the back of Kari with three laps to go.

The Red Bull Junior held his nerve as the leading quartet ran all within 1.5s through the final laps of the race. Despite a last lap challenge from behind, Kari resisted and held onto take his maiden GP3 podium of the season with 3rd position.
Pulcini was forced off the circuit in the closing stages, demoting him from a points challenging position down to 12th at the flag, with teammate Schothorst luckless and not finishing the race.

In the championship standings, Kari has elevated himself up to 10th position overall with 20 points scored, alongside his podium finsih at Arden Motorsport's home race. Arden are 4th overall in the Team's Championship as the season heads next to the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary on the 28-30 July.
The second half of the GP3 Series will begin in the heat of Hungary, just before the summer break before the championship then heads into the final trio of European races.

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