Trident’s Clement Novalak took a shock win from 13th on the grid in a wild feature race at Zandvoort, while the leading championship contenders crashed out.
The race commenced with a rolling start behind the safety car in damp conditions, with all-but four drivers opting for slick tyres. Hitech GP’s Jak Crawford led into turn one from pole, but behind him the chaos started early,
Ollie Bearman was spun around at the first corner by Juan Manuel Correa, while his Prema team-mate Frederik Vesti slid through the gravel along with Victor Martins, forced to take avoiding action from the Mercedes-AMG junior.
Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan was forced into retirement after a separate spin at the end of the opening lap, necessitating a swift return to the circuit for the safety car.
Crawford led from Dennis Hauger and Zane Maloney at the resumption, while the wet-shod quartet of Arthur Leclerc, Ralph Boschung Jehan Daruvala and Josh Mason soon headed for the pitlane for slicks as conditions improved.
Rodin Carlin’s Maloney was the first of the leading runners to make his mandatory pitstop on lap eight, with Crawford and Hauger both coming in for fresh tyres on lap nine.
Isack Hadjar and Theo Pourchaire stopped on the next lap, where drama unfolded once more. Having beaten Hadjar out of the pitlane, championship leader Pourchaire inexplicably crashed on his out-lap, necessitating the appearance of the safety car once more.
There was a further incident after the remaining runners completed their mandatory stops. Pourchaire’s chief title rival Vesti retired moments after leaving the pitlane, bizarrely losing both of his rear wheels and left facing backwards in the middle of the circuit.
Novalak, who had run seventh behind Pourchaire early on before inheriting the lead once everyone else stopped, came in to change tyres just before the safety car intervention. It was a decision that paid dividends, as he emerged still in front ahead of Crawford.
Maloney swept around the outside of Crawford for second once the action got back underway. Bearman tried to make a move on Martins but, after the pair went side-by side, was forced wide and ended up crashing into the barriers, with Martins handed a 10-second time penalty for the incident.
The safety car was not required this time, and Novalak pulled out a 2s gap, which he controlled until the finish in what became a time-limited race for his first race victory since his title-winning BRDC British Formula 3 campaign in 2019.
Maloney withstood late pressure from Crawford and a charging home favourite Richard Verschoor to finish second. Martins took the chequered flag in fifth, but his penalty dropped him to ninth.
Hauger was promoted up on spot as a result, having crossed the line in sixth ahead of Hadjar, Enzo Fittiipaldi and Amaury Cordeel. Having run fifth early on, Correa recovered from a 10s penalty for his first-lap incident with Bearman to score the final point in 10th.
DAMS driver Ayumu Iwasa was also given a 10s penalty for an early incident with Kush Maini and trailed home out of the points in 13th.
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