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Filippi blitzes field to take first win
Luca Filippi blew away the rest of the field in today’s opening round of the championship, controlling the race from start to finish in a demonstration of what he hopes will be the first of many wins to come during the season.

The Italian was untouchable throughout the race, running first for the entire event apart from his pitstop and maintaining a solid gap back to his closest rivals Timo Glock and Andi Zuber.

At the start Filippi had a conservative start from pole, bunching up his rivals behind him and easily running through the first corner in first place. Behind him Xandi Negrao had a slow start but just kept Zuber behind him, who was forced across the track towards Bruno Senna.

All of which meant that Glock, who had an exceptional start, was able to stay wide out left and pull alongside Negrao into the first turn, with the pair almost inevitably colliding into the next corner. The Brazilian came off worse as he slid off track, slotting back in tenth position with a badly bent steering column.

He was still better off than Giorgio Pantano and Mike Conway, who both failed to take the start after being struck by gearbox gremlins, having to be pushed into the pitlane and out of the race.

Back at the front Filippi was cruising away from the melee behind him, with Glock struggling from the after effects of his accident in second place just ahead of teammate Zuber, who had kept Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi and Nicolas Lapierre behind him.

The Frenchman was soon out of the picture as he ran very wide at the back of the circuit, allowing Adrian Zaugg, Borja Garcia, Michael Ammermuller and Negrao through as he went.

Glock was soon putting in the fastest laps as he pushed his recalcitrant car to catch up to the leader, but Filippi had plenty in reserve and was able to match the German’s pace easily, pulling away to a four second gap over the next few laps, one that he was to maintain throughout the race.

Negrao was a man on a mission further back, being the only driver on comparable times to the race leader as he fought his way back through the field. A stop on lap seven brought him back out ahead of Lapierre, Garcia and Ammermuller and looked to have brought the race back to him.

Running in clear air helped, and when the third to fifth placed trio of Zuber, Senna and di Grassi came in two laps later it was too late – they came out in the same order, but only Zuber found himself in front of Negrao on track as he pushed to regain what he felt was rightfully his.

At the front Glock pitted one lap later, re-emerging two seconds to the good over his teammate, with the leader following suit on the next lap, coming back on track well ahead of his rival. The pair swapped fastest laps for a while, but the order was set for what was to become the remainder of the race.

Negrao’s comeback came to a rapid conclusion on lap 15 when the Brazilian’s car, already looking badly battered, found itself in the wall at turn seven after his floor struck the kerbing and pitched the car head first into the barriers. He was quickly out and waving to the fans, but his day was over.

His countryman di Grassi was now on a charge, disposing of Lapierre before muscling his way past Zaugg for fifth position. The South African was clearly struggling, and a train of cars soon formed up behind him.

But up at the front Filippi was serenely controlling the race, easing his way to victory ahead of Glock and Zuber. Senna was the next man across the line, a strong fourth place his reward in his first ever race in the series, just ahead of di Grassi, who ran out of laps in the pursuit of his countryman.

Zaugg hung on, just, claiming sixth ahead of Lapierre and Garcia, with an impressive Karun Chandhok passing Ammermuller in the closing stages of the race but just missing out on the points. Behind them Kazuki Nakajima claimed the final point for fastest lap just before the end, albeit from a lap down.

But all eyes were on Filippi as he stood on the top step of the podium for the first time in this series, singing his heart out while the Italian national anthem played. So controlled was his race that few in the paddock doubted that there would be more wins to come for the Super Nova driver.

Pos  Driver              Team                       Time
 1.  L. Filippi          Super Nova International   58:34.676
 2.  T. Glock            iSport International        +  8.162
 3.  A. Zuber            iSport International        + 11.903
 4.  B. Senna            Arden International         + 16.373
 5.  L. Di Grassi        ART Grand Prix              + 18.074
 6.  A. Zaugg            Arden International         + 39.135
 7.  N. Lapierre         DAMS                        + 39.462
 8.  B. Garcia           Durango                     + 40.122
 9.  K. Chandhok         Durango                     + 43.505
10.  M. Ammermuller      ART Grand Prix              + 51.883
11.  S. Yamamoto         BCN Competicion             + 62.082
12.  A. Soucek           DPR                         + 64.142
13.  C. Bakkerud         DPR                         + 64.409
14.  V. Petrov           Campos Grand Prix           + 69.289
15.  H. Tung             BCN Competicion             + 72.116
16.  A. Pizzonia         FMS International           +  1 lap
17.  K. Nakajima         DAMS                        +  1 lap
18.  K. Hirate           Trident Racing              +  1 lap
     S. Jimenez          Racing Engineering           32 laps
     A. Negrao           Minardi Piquet Sports        14 laps
     J. Villa            Racing Engineering            7 laps
     J. Tahincir         FMS International             3 laps
     R. Rodriguez        Minardi Piquet Sports         1 lap
     M. Conway           Super Nova International      0 laps
     G. Pantano          Campos Grand Prix             0 laps
     P. Maldonado        Trident Racing                0 laps
Fastest lap: Nakajima, 1:43.226 on lap 27

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