Tom DillmannCarlin’s Tom Dillmann took third place on his GP3 debut today, in round one of the 2011 GP3 Series. The GP3 rookie started from pole but lost out at the start to drop to third. From then on Dillmann was forced to defend heavily from fourth place man Valterri Bottas, but defended brilliantly to clinch third place. Team mate Conor Daly fought back well from 29th on the grid to cross the line 21st in his first ever race is Europe, while Leonardo Cordeiro was taken out of the race following an accident on lap five.

Lining up on pole in his first ever GP3 race, Dillmann lost out at the start and was passed by Andrea Caldarelli and Nigel Melker into the first corner. The Carlin man defended well though, from Bottas who was attacking for third.

Behind the leaders, both Cordeiro and Daly had made a good start and had already moved up from to 26th and 25th respectively having qualified 28th and 29th.

There was a change at the front on lap two, as Melker took the lead from Caldarelli, allowing Dillmann to close in. The Carlin driver tried a move for second, but couldn’t quite find away through. That allowed Bottas to close in again in what would be a race long fight for third.

By lap four, the gap between Dillmann and Bottas was just 0.229 seconds, while team mate Cordeiro was fighting with Lewis Williamson. The two were wheel to wheel when Williamson seemed to turn in on the Carlin car, putting Cordeiro into the gravel trap and out of the race.

Still in the running, American racer Daly was making the most of his track time in his first GP3 race, and had climbed to 24th by lap six.

Team mate Dillmann was still under pressure from Bottas, and by lap nine the duo were wheel to wheel. Dillmann defended brilliantly and managed to stay ahead, and Bottas soon had Antonio da Costa to contend with in his mirrors. Still pushing hard, Dillmann managed to break the tow from Bottas and pulled out a one second gap, to maintain his third place to the line. Daly meanwhile had made up several more places and crossed the line 21st in his first European event.

Reflecting on his third place, Dillmann said, “Obviously the goal was to win, but I didn’t have a great start in my first race with a hand clutch. I lost a bit of time but had a close fight with Bottas. In the early stages I think I was quick enough to challenge the leaders, but after that my rear tyres started to go off I think. It was a good race for us though, and I’m very pleased to have taken a third place in my first GP3 race. Tomorrow the aim will be to make a good start and get more points.”