Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs enjoyed a dream start to the 2012 season, with victory and third place in the opening two rounds of the AutoGP World Series at Monza this weekend, to take his first ever single-seater double podium. The 21 year-old from Tonbridge, Kent, only confirmed his plans to contest the Italian rounds on Thursday, heading out to the historic Grand Prix circuit that evening.

In Friday’s two practice sessions, Adrian adjusted well to the 550bhp, V8 engined Lola to set the third fastest time in both. Later that day, after some fine-tuning to the Super Nova machine, Adrian quickly established himself as the pacesetter posting the fastest lap early in the session, before pitting for new tyres.

After inevitably briefly dropping down the order Adrian returned to the track and quickly regained the number one spot, improving by six tenths of a second to claim his maiden pole position in the revamped series, which visits three continents in 2012.

On Saturday Adrian made the best use of the prime grid spot to get the jump on the rest of the field in the weekend’s opening 14 lap race, and built up a healthy advantage by the midway point as they approached the pit-stop window. Stopping for the compulsory rear tyre change on lap eight, his first ever in competitive action, the team and Adrian performed a slick operation, to get him back on track still leading.

Thereafter, the BRDC Rising Star cruised to a comfortable victory, despite struggling with a niggling gearbox issue that had plagued him through qualifying, to take an early championship lead.

Sunday’s second race featured a reverse grid for the top eight finishers from race one, which resulted in a fourth row start for Adrian. A good getaway off the line allowed him to hold eighth into the first corner and by lap two he’d gained two places.

Entering the pits in sixth place, a sterling job by the team turned him round quickly, however with the leaders all pitting on the same lap, there was a short delay in rejoining, which saw Adrian unable to gain any places.

For three laps Adrian enjoyed a close-run five-car battle for position, until lap 11 when several cars collided, but in the ensuring chaos a controlled drive allowed him to pick his way through the debris and up into third place, which he held to the flag.

“Practice went really well, we continued the form from the previous week’s test and after finishing third in both sessions I was confident going into qualifying of a good result,” said Adrian. “We tweaked the car in between practice and qualifying and did a short opening stint to warm the tyres, which was good enough for P1. I pitted for new tyres and naturally lost the place momentarily and on my second run, I improved by six tenths to retake the pole, which was a great start to my first weekend in AutoGP, and a repeat of my pole here last year, in GP3.

“In the first race, I really didn’t have any idea how it would be starting in this car, as we naturally hadn’t had any time to test that prior to the race, but I made a perfect start to hold the lead into turn one. I managed to break the tow early on and build up a 2.5 second lead over the first three laps. However on the fourth lap, the gearbox problem we suffered earlier returned, which meant I was losing time in the first sector as I couldn’t change up quickly from first to second gear. So I had to really push hard on the rest of the lap to keep the advantage.

“Race two was far more eventful. I got a good start to hold position but didn’t have quite the same pace as I had the rest of the weekend. The team did a great job in the pit stop, changing the tyres very quickly, however we were in a train of five cars and all came in together so I had to be careful not to collide with them when we rejoined so we lost a little bit of time coming out.

“Despite that we were in a good position to be challenging for a podium finish and when a few cars ahead of me collided, I was in the right place to pick my way through and get third place. All in all it was a really good points haul and I’m very happy with the weekend and to be leading the championship.”

Adrian has now confirmed that he will contest the remaining rounds of the AutoGP World Series, with Supa Nova starting with the next round at Valencia, Spain on 1 April. The remaining rounds are: 15 April, Marrakech (Morocco); 6 May, Hungaroring (Hungary); 3 June, Portimao (Portugal); 22 July, Curitaba (Brazil); 23 September, Sonama (USA).