Sepang GP3: Albon grabs Race 1 victory as De Vries hits Leclerc
Alex Albon won the GP3 feature race at Sepang and gained 12 points on championship leader Charles Leclerc, who was hit by Nyck de Vries on the opening lap.
Starting on the front row, Albon had a better getaway than Leclerc to lead into Turn 1 with the latter just holding off De Vries.
The championship leader then lost further places at the next braking point as he was nudged by the late-braking De Vries, the Dutchman coming very close to touch Albon as well.
Leclerc ran wide as a result and had to let both Jack Aitken and Arjun Maini past while De Vries dropped outside the top 10.
He crossed the line 11th but received a five-second time penalty to lose further places.
Leclerc quickly recovered a position by overtaking Maini at Turn 5 and then spent the first half of the race catching up with Albon and Aitken as the duo had already pulled away from the rest by then.
Aitken even put some pressure on Albon initially including having a look at the final corner but soon started to lose time, allowing Leclerc to close in on him.
Leclerc spent the late stages less than a second behind Aitken and made a move at Turn 1 on the penultimate lap but the Briton did not put a foot wrong and kept the spot.
Albon cruised to cross the line first with Aitken taking second, somewhat relieved of pressure on the final lap as Leclerc had to turn his attention to the quickly-charging Maini.
Maini caught up with Leclerc but had no time to attempt an overtake and settled for fourth.
Campos Racing's Steijn Schothorst held off Jake Dennis for fifth, the Briton managing to steal sixth from Nirei Fukuzumi earlier on.
Antonio Fuoco, the only non-ART driver left in title contention, will start tomorrow's sprint race from pole, having taken eighth from 11th.
Koiranen's Matt Parry and Trident's Sandy Stuvik secured the final two pointscoring finishes.
Feature race results:
Sepang GP3: Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in qualifying
Sepang GP3: Dennis wins Race 2, Leclerc edges closer to title