Nicolas Lapierre gets GP2 win over Glock
Nicolas Lapierre has finally laid his GP2 demons to rest by claiming an assured victory in race two at Bahrain, controlling the event from start to finish.
The ebullient Frenchman was delighted to finally stand on the top step of the podium, banishing his injuries woes of last year to memory as he jumped for joy in between championship rivals Timo Glock and Luca Filippi.
The win was set up at the start when Lapierre and Garcia were the only two drivers to get cleanly through turn one, with the Frenchman slotting his car precisely inside the poleman, after which he was never bothered for the remainder of the race.
Behind the pair, meanwhile, there was mayhem. Andi Zuber made a strong start but tried to move inside Lucas di Grassi, who couldn’t see him. The pair collided, leaving Bruno Senna with nowhere to go but into the back of the pair, while the rest of the grid was bottled up behind the tangle of cars.
As Senna limped back to the pits the safety car was called into action, and behind Lapierre and Garcia the men who made the most of the melee were Filippi, Andy Soucek, Michael Ammermuller and Adrian Zaugg, who Glock just managed to pass before the positions were set.
Two laps later the race was live, and Glock was on a mission: he quickly disposed of his countryman and was rapidly closing on Soucek, but he was briefly halted when Kazuki Nakajima collected Ho-Pin Tung, pitching the Chinese driver into a heavy collision with the wall and prompting the return of the safety car while the marshals collected the resultant debris.
Two laps later the race was live once again, and the championship leaders wasted no time in moving up the order: Filippi slid past Garcia into turn one, while behind him Glock followed suit on Soucek.
One lap later Glock repeated the trick on Garcia to almost set the podium in place. Further back Giorgio Pantano was making up for his disappointments of yesterday by storming through the field: having started from last on the grid he was already just outside of the points by lap seven.
Zaugg meanwhile was struggling to take anything from his day: having been caught up in the first corner mayhem his car was fighting him all around the track. He did all he could to hold position, but with his sidepod lifting off the chassis and another collision with Karun Chandhok there was nothing he could do but limp back to the pits and hope the rolling repairs would hold.
Glock was on a roll and soon caught up to Filippi, hoping to rectify the result from race one. The pair had an incredible scrap for most of lap nine, swapping positions all over the track, but eventually the German had too much straight line speed and eased away into second place.
Behind the leading trio Garcia was having a strong race, with Ammermuller and Conway behind and unable to do anything about the plucky Spaniard. With Soucek dropping away from them it was only a matter of time before Pantano was sniffing at a points finish.
Behind them all Pastor Maldonado was not fostering good relationships within his team: Kohei Hirate was clearly the faster of the pair, but as he tried to overtake his teammate into turn one the Venezuelan nerfed him off the track. The Japanese driver was soon back in the pits, nursing a heavily strapped wrist and contemplating his revenge in the next race.
Conway, who had been put under a lot of pressure by Pantano for a few laps, suddenly had his mirrors cleared as the Italian’s car slowed dramatically, putting him out of the race once again. Given some breathing space he was soon on the tail of Ammermuller, rolling easily by as the German ran wide at the back of the circuit.
This gave the Briton a shot at Garcia, but the canny Spaniard could see it coming and chose to drive defensively, bringing Ammermuller and, remarkably, Nakajima into the fray.
Up at the front Lapierre crossed the line to claim an emotional first win in the series, ahead of Glock and Filippi, while the dogfight behind them was won by Garcia, who kept Conway at bay to take fourth position.
Nakajima was too fast for Ammermuller though, and the Japanese driver added another point to the one collected yesterday for the fastest lap, which in this race was collected by Glock. Senna finished in a remarkable eighth place after his early dramas put him back to last after the first lap.
The championship is now headed by Filippi, whose 16 points puts him two ahead of Glock, but the pair were today forced to play second fiddle to the overjoyed Frenchman, who beamed while his national anthem played for him at last.
1. Nicolas Lapierre DAMS 23 laps 43m 30.252s
2. Timo Glock iSport +3.183s
3. Luca Fillipi Super Nova +6.686s
4. Borja Garcia Durango +8.416s
5. Mike Conway Super Nova +10.178s
6. Kazuki Nakajima DAMS +11.089s
7. Michael Ammermuller ART +12.259s
8. Bruno Senna Arden +22.427s
9. Andy Soucek DPR +25.857s
10. Javier Villa Racing Engineering +26.720s
11. Vitaly Petrov Campos +32.661s
12. Roldan Rodriguez Minardi Piquet +38.977s
13. Jason Tahinci FMSI +46.473s
14. Sakon Yamamoto BCN +77.896s
15. Xandi Negrao Minardi Piquet +1 lap
16. Pastor Maldonado Trident +1 lap [Rtd]
17. Adrian Zaugg Arden +3 laps
Rtd Giorgio Pantano Campos 15 laps completed
Rtd Kohei Hirate Trident 12 laps completed
Rtd Sergio Jimenez Racing Engineering 10 laps completed
Rtd Karun Chandhok Durango 7 laps completed
Rtd Ho-Pin Tung BCN 3 laps completed
Rtd Antonio Pizzonia FMSI 2 laps completed
Rtd Lucas di Grassi ART 0 laps completed
Rtd Andreas Zuber iSport 0 laps completed
Rtd Christian Bakkerud DPR 0 laps completed