Palmer triumphs in Algarve opener

Briton takes fourth victory of season, as Bailly and Clarke complete the podium trio

The top three celebrate

Jolyon Palmer took his fourth victory of the season with an assured performance in the opening race in the Algarve, the Briton leading from the start and negotiating a safety car period to eventually clinch victory by just over 2.5 seconds.

Second place went to Zolder race-winner Benjamin Bailly who, like Palmer, maintained his grid position throughout the race.

Behind Bailly, Britain’s Jack Clarke secured his maiden F2 podium in third position, although the 22-year-old was made to work hard for the place after coming under pressure from Kazim Vasiliauskas at the restart of the race.

While the race wasn’t dominated by overtaking, it was notable for a controversial incident between Philipp Eng and Dean Stoneman which saw the pair collide at the turn five hairpin, Stoneman dropping from sixth to 12th as a result.

The championship contenders were both passed by Nicola De Marco on the run to the turn, as Eng and Stoneman fought for position on the outside. Eng made contact with Stoneman as they both turned in and seemed to push his British rival around the hairpin. Eng was able to continue in sixth while Stoneman struggled down the order for the remainder of the race.

The race behind the lead trio was eventually won by Vasiliauskas after the Lithuanian got the jump on De Marco on the opening lap. Despite being heavily pressured by the Italian, Vasiliauskas nearly made a move into third on lap 12. The Safety Car had been deployed for a single lap following a lurid spin by Plamen Kralev, giving Vasiliauskas the chance to attack Clarke ahead.

Vasiliauskas used one of his overboost options and got a great run on Clarke across the start/finish line, but the Briton defended admirably and was able to hold off Vasiliauskas on the run down to turn one. After his failed attempt, Vasiliauskas settled for fourth ahead of the recovering De Marco – the Italian having dropped to seventh in the early stages.

Eng took a lonely sixth at the finish but the drama wasn’t over for the Austrian, as Dean Stoneman reportedly made contact with him again during the slow down lap. The duo already have an incident prone history following contact at Monza in May, and it seems their rivalry may have boiled over again here in Portugal.

Ricardo Teixeira held off a charging Armaan Ebrahim to secure seventh, although the Indian racer can be proud of his performance having started 16th on the grid. Benjamin Lariche claimed a lonely ninth, ahead of a relatively quiet Sergey Afanasiev.

Natalia Kowalska narrowly missed out on securing her first points in Formula Two after an eye catching performance from the female racer. She dropped to the rear of the field in the early stages after apparent contact with Mihai Marinescu, but the CYFRA+ backed driver responded brilliantly, passing Plamen Kralev, Parthiva Sureshwaren, Ivan Samarin, Mihai Marinescu and Dean Stoneman following the restart.

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