Glock powers to Race One victory
Timo Glock brought delight to his home fans at the Nurburgring today by putting on a crushing display in race one, easily winning from Lucas di Grassi and Kazuki Nakajima after putting his nose in front at his pitstop and then romping away before slowing in the closing laps, winning the race by 2.2 seconds and reigniting his recently stuttering championship challenge.
But Glock didn't have everything his own way: a slow getaway at the start by the poleman allowed fellow front row starter di Grassi to take an early lead at the first corner, with the German just holding onto second ahead of a charging Giorgio Pantano, Pastor Maldonado and Nakajima.
Behind them chaos reigned as new returnee Sebastien Buemi seemingly forgot to brake for turn one, his car a battering ram in the side of Luca Filippi before the Swiss driver became briefly airborne as he rolled over the Italian's right rear: the rest of the field had to find the best line they could around the stricken pair, who were both out of the race almost immediately.
Di Grassi took the opportunity of some clear air to put in some fast laps, while behind the lead pair Maldonado stole third from Pantano at the first turn the next time around: the Italian didn't take too kindly to the move and was soon hounding his rival all around the circuit.
Nakajima clearly fancied some fresh air too: he was into the pits as soon as he could, easily the first of the front markers, and as soon as he came out he was setting his customary fastest laps as he tried to outdo the leaders on sheer pace, albeit from back in sixteenth position.
Pantano, who soon had Adrian Zaugg filling his mirrors as he struggled in vain to get by Maldonado, soon woke up to the fact that he was being artificially slowed: he came in for his stop, with Zaugg right behind him, on lap six but the damage had been done, as the pair found out when they rejoined behind their Japanese rival. Zaugg had a bigger problem in the form of Adam Carroll, who had also already stopped and was now climbing all over his rear.
With Nakajima now setting the pace it was only a matter of time before the message to come in would be broadcast from the pitwalls, and on lap nine race leader di Grassi was in for his stop. He came out a second to the good of Nakajima, but it showed the pace advantage the Japanese driver had enjoyed.
The view from the iSport pitwall was clear: Glock had to run the best lap of his life to try and take a one lap advantage of the clear air before coming in to cover the moves of his two rivals, and that was exactly what happened. The German put in his fastest lap of the race before sliding into the pits (and almost into the wall at the entry, so hard was he pushing), and one incredibly fast stop later he was out and into the maelstrom once more.
Glock re-entered the track just ahead of di Grassi, and the hard work was done: all he had to do now was pile on the pressure by pulling away, and make no mistakes at all. No problem then, unless you have the cream of the GP2 paddock hot on your tail...
Or if you have someone in front of you who just doesn't want to let you through. By lap 13 only Kohei Hirate and Jason Tahinci had yet to make their stops, and Glock was soon all over the rear of the latter and looking for a way through. The Turkish driver was in no mood to give any favours out, and despite holding a loaned second place until his stop he refused to heed any ground to Glock anywhere around the track.
For 2 tense laps Glock took at look at every corner, with di Grassi, Nakajima and Pantano all over his tail, before the German forced his way through at turn one, with di Grassi muscling his way by at the next corner, but Nakajima and Pantano had to wait for Tahinci to pit before they could push back towards the front pair.
Further back and there was more nonsense to come: Adam Carroll, Bruno Senna, Javier Villa and Nicolas Lapierre were having a fierce scrap for eighth until Senna braked way too late into turn one, tapping the Ulsterman into a series of spins and inevitable retirement and picking up a drive through penalty for his error while Villa and Lapierre pushed on past them.
On lap 20 Hirate finally pitted, handing the actual lead over to Glock before coming out alongside teammate Maldonado and pushing him wide, but the Venezuelan pushed back hard and held on, just, to fifth place. This was a battle that was going to run and run, and it was seven laps later when Hirate finally outfoxed his teammate in the complex.
With all hell breaking lose further back in the field, in particular the scrap for 13th between Andy Soucek, Ernesto Viso and XandiNegrao, it was all serene at the front as the top eight spread out around the track.
And when the chequered flag came out it was shown first to Timo Glock, who smoked his tyres in delight as he held on from Lucas di Grassi and a charging Kazuki Nakajima. Giorgio Pantano slowed dramatically in the closing stages but just held on from Kohei Hirate, with Pastor Maldonado well back in sixth.
Adrian Zaugg was the next man across the line after a strong but uneventful race, with Javier Villa doing just enough to hold on for tomorrow's pole position ahead of Nicolas Lapierre, while Mike Conway claimed the point for fastest lap in the closing stages despite being two laps down on the leaders.
But when they returned to the pitlane all the cheers were for Glock, who had his local fans on their feet and screaming madly as he became the first driver this year to claim a second win this season.
Pos Driver Team Time/Behind
1. Glock iSport International 1h01:32.032
2. di Grassi ART Grand Prix + 2.274
3. Nakajima DAMS + 2.723
4. Pantano Campos Grand Prix + 18.937
5. Hirate Trident Racing + 19.706
6. Maldonado Trident Racing + 33.680
7. Zaugg Arden International + 35.779
8. Villa Racing Engineering + 36.960
9. Lapierre DAMS + 37.478
10. Rodriguez Minardi Piquet Sports + 56.548
11. Petrov Campos Grand Prix + 1:00.889
12. Negrao Minardi Piquet Sports + 1:01.420
13. Yamamoto BCN Competicion + 1:01.925
14. Viso Racing Engineering + 1:02.849
15. Senna Arden International + 1:03.189
16. Tung BCN Competicion + 1:08.460
17. Tahinci FMS International + 1 Lap
18. Conway Super Nova International + 1 Lap
19. Garcia Durango + 2 Laps
Driver Team Laps
Soucek DPR 29
Chandhok Durango 26
Carroll FMS International 18
Zuber iSport International 5
Bakkerud DPR 2
Filippi Super Nova International 1
Buemi ART Grand Prix 1
Fastest lap: Conway, 1:43.006 on lap 29