Rodriguez wins GP2 Race 1 Dams’ Kobayashi may have been the quickest man on track at the opening race of the GP2 Asia Series in China, but it was Roldan Rodriguez who claimed victory at the end of the 34 laps after the Japanese went too wide in the last stages of the event.
“I’m very happy!” he said. “I pushed all the way and made no mistake. On the first lap, Kamui braked later than me. I saw him far from me and when I looked again he was on my side. I chose to let him through rather than close the door and maybe crash. We pitted at the perfect time: the team made a great job. For tomorrow, I will start 8. I will adopt the same strategy: do the best I can. Of course, I will try and go for a podium. I want to leave Shanghai as the leader of the GP2 Asia Series and go home with two trophies.”
When the lights went off, poleman Rodriguez made a good start and kept Kobayashi at bay. However, at the wheel of a very competitive Dams car, the Japanese ace soon put pressure on the Spaniard and took the lead at the end of the first lap. He then drove a clean and consistent race, signing best laptime, until Lap 29 when he went off the line in turn 1.
Although he managed to continue, Rodriguez took the lead and crossed the finish line in first position, snatching his first GP2 win. The race saw two safety cars, the first one after Sergio Perez stopped in the middle of the track. That’s when the leaders decided to pit, Kobayashi keeping the lead even after the restart. The second safety car was deployed after an impressive Sekigushi tried to overtake Filippi.
The Japanese and the Italian eventually came together and both men had to retire. After the track was cleared, Kobayashi managed to keep Rodriguez at bay and tried to extend the gap. He pushed a little too hard, almost lost control of his car and the Spaniard drove to victory. Behind them, Sakon Yamamoto enjoyed his first GP2 podium, signing a third place after he overtook Villa on the first lap, but the best start of the race definitely goes to rookie Earl Bamber.
Starting from 9th, the young driver from New Zealand moved up to 6th and managed to keep the pace and finish at that same position. He was followed by another impressive rookie, Chris Van der Drift who benefited from a good strategy and a great driving style to start from 16th and end up in the points in 7th. The fight for 8th place was something of true GP2 style with four drivers fighting for it and Valsecchi eventually landing the position.
The Italian will start from pole position today on the reversed grid.
GP2 Asia – Shanghai Race 1 results:
1) Rodriguez, Piquet, 1:06.23.303
2) Kobayashi, DAMS, + 0.632
3) Yamamoto, ART, + 3.971
4) Villa, Super Nova, + 7.235
5) Petrov, Barwa Campos, + 9.405
6) Bamber, Qi-Meritus, + 11.675
7) Van Der Drift, Trident, + 15.546
8) Valsecchi, Durango, + 16.178
9) D'Ambrosio, DAMS, + 16.495
10) Van Der Garde, iSport, + 16.811
11) Iaconelli, Durango, + 20.604
12) Nunes, Piquet, + 21.618
13) Ricci, Trident, + 23.109
14) Yoong, Qi-Meritus, + 25.892
15) Al Fardan, iSport, + 26.419
16) Herck, DPR, + 26.821
17) Philippe, ART, + 1 laps
Filippi, BCN, + 24 laps
Sekiguchi, DPR, + 24 laps
Nai Chia Chen, FMS, + 24 laps
Yoshimoto, BCN, + 20 laps
Zuber, FMS, + 19 laps
Jakes, Super Nova, + 19 laps
Maki, TTA, + 10 laps
Perez, Barwa Campos, + 10 laps
Razia, TTA, + 3 laps