Villa wins GP2 sprint race
Javier Villa has claimed his third Sunday win for the season in race two at the Hungaroring, regaining the lead after an accident in front of him and then soaking up race long pressure to take the checkered flag just 0.6 seconds ahead of yesterday's winner Adam Carroll.
The win came despite a relatively slow start from pole which saw fellow front row starter Adrian Zaugg storm away into the lead, with third place starter Roldan Rodriquez also making short work of his countryman further around the track. Behind then Carroll had a storming start from eighth to fifth at turn one before disposing of Borja Garcia at turn three and heading off after his former teammate.
Lucas di Grassi had been confident of a good result this morning, but an uncustomary slow start dropped the Brazilian to sixth place, just ahead of a fierce battle between Andi Zuber, Kazuki Nakajima, Timo Glock and Giorgio Pantano, whose usual rocket start had propelled him up from sixteenth on the grid to the fight for the final points finish.
Further back Pastor Maldonado was looking ragged, hoping for gaps that weren't there as he tried to go inside Bruno Senna: the pair inevitably came together and both men went wide. It was a fight that was to bound to continue as the Brazilian could not seem to escape his rival, and the Venezuelan seemed unable to make a clean pass.
Back at the front and Garcia was dropping like a stone: di Grassi was through on lap two for fifth place, and then Glock also passed him after a brave move to dispose of Nakajima, which Pantano also took advantage of, sparking a fierce battle between the Italian and Japanese drivers. On lap six Nakajima saw his chance into turn one as Pantano moved to pass Garcia: the pair banged wheels as the drove down to turn two but Pantano held on resolutely.
Zaugg was clearly slower than his pursuers: with just 2 seconds covering the top six as they struggled to find a way by the South African. Eventually Rodriguez had had enough and took a look up the inside at turn two: Zaugg shut the door too hard and the pair collided, allowing Villa and Carroll through before Rodriguez got back on track, with di Grassi and Zuber slotting in ahead of the former leader, who now had Glock on his tail.
The German was through into the points one lap later, an incredible result after another disappointing weekend so far, but he was soon on his teammate's tail and looking for more while Zaugg was causing more problems behind him, baulking Pantano out of turn one next time by to allow Nakajima to get past, and then squeezing Nakajima wide at the same corner as he tried to overtake the South African on the next lap.
It wasn't going to last: Nakajima saw a gap that wasn't really there the next time around at turn two, bounced over the curbs and into the side of Zaugg, who limped back to the pits and retirement. The Japanese driver was handed a drive through penalty for his efforts, but he too was soon back in the pits and out of his car due to damage picked up in the collision.
While the battle at the front continued at a frenetic pace the fight for fourth was white hot: di Grassi was holding on for dear life as the iSport pair, led by Zuber, sniped at his rear. Unfortunately for the Austrian he was just too close, losing the air over his front wing and his downforce with it, spinning off and handing the fight to teammate Glock.
The German was in his element, toying with his title rival as he popped out at every corner, not looking to overtake so much as force di Grassi into a mistake to lose any chance of points. For four laps the showboating continued, Glock looking easily the faster of the pair until he slowed dramatically: his gearbox has given up the fight and he was forced in another heartbreaking retirement.
But at the front of the field last year's Racing Engineering teammates were in the final throws of battle, with Javier Villa just holding on from Adam Carroll as the checkered flag dropped. Roldan Rodriguez finished third after another gutsy drive to finish three seconds back but well ahead of a relieved Lucas di Grassi, who headed Borja Garcia across the line. The Spaniard's teammate Karun Chandhok looked to have done enough to earn the final point until his gearbox also gave up the ghost on the final lap after immense pressure in the closing stages from Andi Zuber, who claimed sixth ahead of Giorgio Pantano, with Sebastien Buemi setting the fast lap on his final tour.
On the podium Villa was all smiles as Carroll picked him up to honor his outstanding drive before Rodriguez covered the pair in champagne, much to the delight of Villa's team below: they had gone through yet another difficult weekend but were delighted to close it with another win. But further down the pitlane and Glock was ruing what could have been as he watched his championship lead cut to just one point, 55 to 54 for di Grassi.