Egor Orudzhev claimed only his second victory of the World Series Formula V8 3.5 season after coming out on top of a tactical battle with Alex Palou during Saturday’s finale race of the weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.
But there was disappointment for championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi, who appeared to suffer some kind of mechanical failure on his Lotus, with the Brazilian locking his brakes heavily and going nose-first into the turn one barriers early on.
Starting from third on the grid, Orudzhev jumped into second around the outside of Fittipaldi into turn one on the opening lap, falling in behind pole sitter Palou, who retained the lead for Teo Martin Motorsportuntil the pit stop window.
Palou stopped two laps earlier than Orudzhev, and that ultimately cost the Spaniard the victory, as the SMP Racing by AVF driver emerged from the pit lane just ahead, and despite initial pressure, the Russian held on for the win, ultimately by 5.418 seconds.
Diego Menchaca claimed his first podium finish of the season for Fortec Motorsports after capitalising on Matevos Isaakyan struggling for pace for a second consecutive day, with the Mexican pulling away with ease once ahead of the second SMP Racing by AVF driver.
Such was the pace disadvantage for Isaakyan, he drifted back into the clutches of the battle between Roy Nissany, Alfonso Celis Jr and Konstantin Tereschenko, with the quartet running for a number of laps nose to tail, with a few switches of positions between the trio behind Isaakyan.
It looked as though the Russian would hold on, but a couple of laps from the end, he lost ground after locking up at the end of the back straight, running wide and losing fourth to RP Motorsports’ Nissany, before losing fifth to Celis Jr on the next lap.
The battle with Tereschenko almost ended in tears for both drivers though, with the two banging wheels as the Russian attempted to follow Celis Jr through, and it left the Teo Martin Motorsport driver running slowly for the final two laps due to damage, which saw him fall to eighth behind Yu Kanamaru, who had stalled on the grid at the start.
Giuseppe Cipriani retired on the final lap but was classified ninth for Il Barone Rampante, ahead of Rene Binder, who stalled ahead of the formation lap and joined the race a lap down on the rest of the field on an ultimately difficult day for Lotus.
Just ten points separate Fittipaldi and Isaakyan in the championship standings with just two races of the season remaining in Bahrain, while both Orudzhev and Celis Jr remain in contention, albeit twenty-five and thirty-one points adrift with fifty points available.