Nikita Mazepin secured a hard-earned victory in the GP3 Series Race 2 at Spa, Belgium, producing a pair of clean overtakes to tie up his third victory of 2018. Mazepin spent the latter stages of a frenetic race managing the gap to ART Grand Prix teammate Anthoine Hubert, who thrust his way into second place as Callum Ilott cemented a 1-2-3 finish for the French team.
With a delayed start due to poor visibility as a result of fog, Race 1 winner David Beckmann’s day ended prematurely having pulled into the pit on the formation lap. As the lights went out, polesitter Joey Mawson got away strongly as Ilott wrested second place away from teammate Jake Hughes off the line. Ilott challenged for the lead on the lap after; attempting to seize control of the race from Mawson, the British driver was bumped wide at Les Combes and dropped to fourth.
Hughes then surged past Mawson at the Kemmel Straight on Lap 3, with Mazepin following his teammate to pass the Arden International driver. Mawson began to hemorrhage positions, losing further ground on the subsequent lap to the recovering Ilott as Mazepin made his play for the lead – taking a tow on the back straight with DRS, the Russian powered past Hughes and disappeared off into the distance.
Hubert locked out the top four for ART after passing Mawson on the fifth lap, and the Australian fell further down the order after being overhauled later on by Pedro Piquet before coming under fire from a midfield train of cars. Leonardo Pulcini found his way through with little resistance, but an errant visor tear-off entering his radiator left the Italian to retire.
Meanwhile, Ilott cleared Hughes for second, attempting to scamper up the road in pursuit of Mazepin as a rapidly chasing Hubert closed in on his teammates. After the midway point of the race, the Frenchman moved past Hughes to wind in Ilott, while Mawson continued his descent through the field – having initially defended well from rookie Richard Verschoor, the Dutchman conducted a spectacular move at the Bus Stop and defended from the DRS-assisted Mawson into Les Combes on the next lap.
With three laps remaining, Hubert caught and passed Ilott with consummate ease with DRS, and set about going after Mazepin. However, over the final laps the gap between the pair remained stagnant – Mazepin managing his tire life in the closing stages to clinch his third win of 2018, crossing the line 1.8s ahead of Hubert.
Ilott completed the podium, with Hughes 4.6s further back to lock out the top four positions for ART. Piquet was fifth, beating Trident teammate Giuliano Alesi as Verschoor claimed his first points in seventh having made up ten places during the race. Battling hard for the final point, Ryan Tveter beat Tatiana Calderon to eighth place.
Hubert continues to lead the drivers’ standings with 158 points, with Ilott at 132 and Mazepin now third with 125. ART Grand Prix have 450 points in the teams’ standings, with Trident with 294 and Campos Racing at 105. The next round takes place in Monza next weekend.