Luca Filippi and Vladimir Arabadzhiev took the honours in the opening weekend of the Auto GP championship, a re-branded version of last year’s Euroseries 3000 offering big cash prizes to winning drivers.
The season launched at Brno in the Czech Republic with a late flurry of signings bringing the grid up to 15 cars, although an expected 16th did not happen as Natacha Gachnang was injured and replacement Tomas Kostka did not race.
Britain’s Duncan Tappy, driving for DAMS, was fifth in the first race but saw his hopes in the second damaged by a drive-through penalty for a jump start.
He was eventually classified 11th and sits seventh in the opening standings.
Former GP2 racer Filippi won the opening race but could only manage 13th in the second, suffering at the start and pitting for new tyres. He did, however, set the fastest lap.
Bulgarian Arabadzhiev finished midfield in the first race but started from the front row in the second, which offers fewer points than the opener, overtaking pole-sitter Adrian Zaugg at the start and fending him off all race.
Tappy’s team-mate Edoardo Piscopo was on the podium in both races and now jointly leads the standings with Filippi. The pair have 12 points to Arabadzhiev’s eight.
Auto GP claims to be the newest and richest racing series in Europe, offering €1.2 million in prize money – 200,000 for each of the six events on the series calendar, more even than Superleague’s ‘dash for the cash’ super final.
Its next event will be at Imola in Italy on the weekend of May 22-23.