Marta García triumphed in a frantic Race 1 in Monza to extend her lead over title rivals Hamda Al Qubaisi and Léna Bühler at the top of the standings.
The Spaniard got an excellent start heading into Turn 1 with Bühler moving ahead of Rodin Carlin’s Abbi Pulling into P2. A collision further down the field saw Chloe Grant’s ART Grand Prix car overturned, causing a red flag. The British driver was taken for checks at the medical centre and released without any major injuries.
The race resumed at 13.15 behind the Safety Car with García in the lead, ahead of Bühler and Pulling. Pulling committed round the outside at Turn 1, taking the inside line on the exit to overtake the Swiss driver. However, Bühler would battle back and reclaim the spot by the first Lesmo corner. The front three were split by only 0.6s entering Lap 3, with all three now battling for the lead.
Further down the field, H. Al Qubaisi, who started from the pitlane after she was unable to get away from her grid spot on the formation lap, was working her way up the field. The Emirati driver delivered a move on Campos Racing’s Lola Lovinfosse to claim P9.
With the top three now locked in a fight for the lead, two more cars joined the pack as Rodin Carlin’s Megan Gilkes and Jessica Edgar saw an opportunity to take advantage of the battling ahead. The top five were soon only split by 1.1s as both Gilkes and Edgar looked to overtake teammate Pulling on Lap 5.
As the race entered its final lap all three podium positions were up for grabs, and the top five continued to tussle as they headed towards the Curva Alboreto and the chequered flag. In the battle for P3, Edgar would power round the outside of her teammate Pulling to take her first podium since Round 1 by just 0.016s.
Meanwhile at the front, Buhler would go for the same move, but Garcia’s straight line speed saw her hold out for the win by just 0.009s.
As it stands
García extended her lead at the top of the drivers’ standings to 22 points over nearest challenger H. Al Qubaisi. PREMA Racing also make a small dent into MP Motorsport’s at the top, with the Dutch outfit holding a 53-point lead over their Italian counterparts.
Race 1 Winner, Marta García:
“The race was quite tough! The Safety Car restart was ok, I took a bit of a gap but in this track with the slipstream, it is quite tricky to stay P1 unless you are super-fast.
“I defended a lot in the race, even if it was only for seven laps, but it was one of the toughest six laps I’ve ever had. It was really really close on the finish line, and I was like ‘am I P1 or P2!’, but I am very happy with it.”
The drivers are back in action this evening for Race 2 at 18.40 as Amna Al Qubaisi will look to take her third Reverse Grid Race win of the season.