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Marcus Armstrong scored his third Sprint Race victory this season comfortably from P2 on the grid. The Hitech Grand Prix driver made the better getaway from the front row and claimed a lead he wouldn’t give up, managing a late Safety Car restart perfectly.
Pole-sitter Clément Novalak held onto P2 and his first podium of the 2022 campaign after losing the lead at Turn 1, while Dennis Hauger fought past Jüri Vips on the opening lap to take his first podium finish since his Baku Feature Race win.
AS IT HAPPENED
Novalak got wheelspin from his getaway and in the second phase of the launch, Armstrong claimed the lead of the race, diving down the inside into Turn 1. Novalak’s attempted defence baulked Jüri Vips behind him, allowing Dennis Hauger a run alongside the Estonian at Turn 2. The PREMA Racing man turned the outside line into the inside at the banked Turn 3 to claim third position.
Down the back straight and Liam Lawson was the next in Vips’ mirrors. The Carlin driver forced his way through down the inside into Turn 11 to take fourth. Théo Pourchaire’s tricky start to the weekend got worse on Lap 2, dropping to 21st after out-braking himself at Turn 1 and running through the gravel after an attempted pass on David Beckmann for 14th.
A lock-up for Jehan Daruvala at Turn 1 dropped the Indian driver down to 17th after he dipped his left-side tyres into the gravel, allowing Roy Nissany and Marino Sato through in the process. Olli Caldwell repeated the error seconds later but tagged the barriers after running right through the gravel trap. It temporarily brought out yellow flags on Lap 4, but he was able to reverse his way out and continue, albeit down the order in 22nd.
Once DRS was enabled, the field settled into something of a train, particularly in the battle for sixth from Richard Verschoor down to Logan Sargeant in eighth. Nobody could get close enough to the driver ahead to attempt a move as drivers nursed the tyres through the middle-phase of the race.
Novalak and Hauger kept a watching brief to race leader Armstrong, with the Norwegian told by his team that both pursuers were faster than the man in P1. Despite that call, Novalak couldn’t break the one second bubble to claim DRS on the Hitech Grand Prix driver.
With 10 laps to go, Frederik Vesti began to pressure Felipe Drugovich for P10 but again, the ART driver found no route through on the Championship leader around the twists and turns of Zandvoort despite being within half a second of the MP Motorsport driver.
A big lock-up for Vips with six laps to go almost opened the door to Verschoor to seize P5 at Turn 10 but the Hitech driver gathered it up before the Trident could get close enough to pass. A spin for Daruvala on Lap 26 provided a scare for the PREMA man. He quickly got it pointed the right way again and kept his P16 position. Tatiana Calderón spun off the road at Turn 2 with three laps to go, bringing out the Safety Car in the closing stage of the race.
It was withdrawn on the penultimate lap, setting up a final lap shootout for the win. Armstrong bolted early into the penultimate corner to get a clean getaway and retain the lead. Ayumu Iwasa was able to make the restart count and he seized sixth position from home favourite Verschoor around the outside of Turn 1.
The New Zealander out front managed his final lap to secure a deserved win ahead of Novalak and Hauger. Lawson crossed the line fourth ahead of Vips, who just about held onto a top five result ahead of Iwasa. Verschoor ended up P7 ahead of Sargeant, Doohan and Drugovich in the top 10.
KEY QUOTE – Marcus Armstrong, Hitech Grand Prix
“Good race, happy to get the win and 10 more points. It’s always nice to get some champagne, especially here, it’s a top track. Clem pushed me all the way, so it wasn’t easy by any means. Really happy.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Drugovich’s Championship lead over Pourchaire increases by a sole point on account of the Brazilian claiming the fastest lap. Sargeant holds onto P3 in the standings, now on 130 points while Jack Doohan has Liam Lawson for closer company as the Carlin driver moves within two points of the Australian, the pair sitting fourth and fifth in the Drivers’ Championship respectively.
Carlin moves closer to ART Grand Prix in the Teams’ Standings. The French outfit leads the way still on 253 to Carlin’s 249. Novalak’s P2 finish moves MP Motorsport onto 244 points in third.
The Formula 2 Feature Race from Zandvoort takes place on Sunday, set for lights out at 10:20 local time.
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