Adrian Quaife-Hobbs completed a ‘perfect weekend’ with pole position, double victory and two fastest laps in the latest rounds of AutoGP World Series at Portimao this weekend. The 21 year-old also broke the record for the most AutoGP wins by a driver in one season to secure another series first, and extends his series lead to 73 points.
The Tonbridge racer had started the weekend in the best possible way, setting a searing pace in testing at the Portuguese track in official practice on Thursday. The Supernova driver then cemented his fine form in qualifying, powering his 550bhp, Zytek V8-engined Lola to his fourth pole position of the series, for the first of two races to be held on Saturday.
Starting race one on a set of used Kumho tyres, Adrian didn’t have the best of starts but over the course of the opening lap, was able to slipstream his way past the leader, to retake the lead. Thereafter a controlled drive allowed Quaife-Hobbs to pull away to a six second lead before the mandatory pit-stops.
After all the pit stops had been completed and the race order settled down, the former GP3 racer extended his lead to nine seconds, and with the fastest lap to his credit, to take a comfortable fourth win of the year.
Race two on Sunday morning saw no such start-line dramas for the Briton, despite starting from eighth place on the reversed top-eight grid. By the end of lap one the charging Quaife-Hobbs was already up into fifth place, gaining two places off the line and claiming another position into the first corner.
An incident on lap two saw the safety car called into play to retrieve the stricken car of Pål Varhaug and almost as soon as the race had restarted two laps later, it was again brought under the control of the safety car by another incident. This did not distract Quaife-Hobbs however, and like several others he elected to make the most of the opportunity to serve his compulsory pit stop as soon as the pitlane opened, exiting in third place.
At the restart, Adrian made the most of the slipstream to pass two cars in one stunning overtaking manoeuvre, to claim the lead. Over the remaining laps, Quaife-Hobbs was comfortably the quickest driver on track, posting the fastest lap of the race as he stretched his advantage to five seconds at the flag.
“What a perfect weekend this has been, it feels great,” said Adrian. “Without question this is the best racing weekend of my life and one that will stay with me forever.
“I was surprised by the outcome of the start of race one. I didn’t even use the overboost because I felt that my start was a really good one, and when I looked in the mirrors I didn’t see Regalia, and the others behind were far enough to feel safe.
“Then Facu (Regalia) appeared on my right and there was nothing I could do. Anyway I managed to pass him one lap later and I soon realised that the strategy of starting on soft tyres was paying off. We were quicker than our rivals on mediums and we managed nine laps without getting any graining, so it was just perfect. We could have gone longer with our pit-stop but as both Pål (Varhaug) and Sergey (Sirotkin) had already done theirs earlier we decided to pit and not waste our gap in case of a safety car. It is difficult to rank your wins, but I think that we did a really good race.
“Race two really was a dream result and brought the weekend to a perfect conclusion. I said before the weekend that was my aim, and it all worked out to plan. It’s tough naturally starting from eighth to get that second race win, but I made a great start and was able to make the most of the safety car periods and another great stop by the Supernova team.”
The next round of AutoGP World Series will take place at the Curitiba circuit in Brazil on 22nd July, marking Adrian’s first visit to South America.