Matevos Isaakyan took advantage of being the last man to pit and drove to a brilliant victory in Spa in the second race of the 3.5 weekend.
It was a gloriously sunny Saturday in Spa for the second race of the weekend for the V8 machines, with a much larger crowd than Friday with it being WEC race day.
The all Lotus front row of Pietro Fittipaldi and Rene Binder got away well, however Binder jumped Fittipaldi off the grid, however this only lasted until the end of the Kemmel straight, where a glorious move around the outside put Fittipaldi back in front. Elsewhere race one victor Alfonso Celis quickly moved up from sixth to fourth by the end of lap one.
Fittipaldi was edging away from the field early on, while Binder re-engaged in a battle with Diego Menchaca, reminiscent of Friday’s race. Further down the field, Nelson Mason pulled off a stunning move at the end of Kemmel to displace Yu Kanamaru. In the early phase, the top five were pulling comfortably clear of the rest, and were covered by four seconds. On lap five, Celis appeared impatient behind Menchaca and started applying the pressure. This battle became a three car fight with Matevos Isaakyan keeping close company behind.
Celis cracked first, and ran wide at Pouhon allowing Isaakyan the position. He swiftly pitted and was the first man to do so. Everyone else bar Fioravanti and Mason continued, and during this time Isaakyan made his move on Menchaca, getting a great run through Eau Rouge and carrying the momentum for an easy pass down the straight. Fittipaldi was the first of the leaders to pot with twenty-three minutes remaining. But disaster struck, and he stalled while getting away, costing valuable time.
Binder and Menchaca made their stops, however the early stop paid dividends for Celis, as he now split the pair. This left Isaakyan out front, however he promptly pitted. Surprisingly though, he lead once he came out of the pits, and was immediately under intense pressure from Binder. The excitement was rising, as the top three of Isaakyan, Binder and Celis were right together, with Menchaca not far behind. Elsewhere, Fittipaldi had dropped to seventh as a result of his stall.
The top four were well clear of fifth place Roy Nissany at this stage. The action was quiet with less than fifteen minutes left, where Celis momentarily went off track at the Bus Stop chicane, losing some ground. Menchaca couldn’t handle the relentless pace and was becoming a lonely fourth. Isaakyan was flying, and was started to pull away from Binder. The other battle on circuit was Fittipaldi and Orudzhev, with the former trying to recovered from the botched stop and make up any places he could. Less than a second separated them, and with seven minutes left a great run through Eau Rouge gave Fittipaldi the drive to pass Orudzhev and move into sixth.
The lead battle was fading out, with ever-increasing gaps between all cars, and Isaakyan demonstrated great pace to put a comfortable margin between himself and Binder. Behind, Nissany cruised up to Menchaca who was fading, and in the popular passing spot of the day, he passed Menchaca at the end of the straight.
But Isaakyan was the man of the day, and finished clear of Binder, with Celis completing a great weekend for himself in third place. Fittipaldi eventually brought home his car in sixth. The next round of the series is next weekend in Monza.