Valsecchi storms to sprint race victory
Davide Valsecchi has solidified his championship lead with a brilliant drive to victory this evening in Abu Dhabi, claiming the win with a measured but aggressive run from seventh on the grid to steal the victory from Michael Herck, who led all race until the second last lap but nevertheless claimed his first ever GP2 podium finish ahead of teammate Giacomo Ricci.
|(L to R) Herck (2nd), Valsecchi (1st), and Ricci (3rd)|
Herck was handed the lead at the start when poleman Max Chilton bogged down as the lights went out: Herck was first into the first turn with Alexander Rossi and Ricci held up just enough by Chilton to give the Romanian a clear path to the corner, while behind them Joseph Kral was caught up in the melee between Sergio Perez and Luca Filippi as they all stumbled over each other as they looked for a way through, prompting a safety car period to allow Kral’s broken car to be removed.
War recommenced after the restart, with Ricci sliding through Rossi to set up a potential first ever 1-2 for DPR, while Perez made up for lost time by sliding inside and through Oliver Turvey for P6, just behind Chilton while further behind them all Jules Bianchi was trying to make amends for an awful start by slicing his way back up the order, seemingly unwilling to use his brakes and able to find passing opportunities which his rivals has previously thought were impossible.
Experience was beginning to show as Valsecchi easily disposed of Rossi, with Perez pushing the American wide on lap 11 and then taking the position a lap later, and all eyes were on the championship leader as he put together a string of fastest laps to chase down the DPR pair: with conditions forcing the teams to get the wet tires ready just in case the ominous looking clouds overhead broke, the final ten laps were set to repeat the excitement of yesterday’s feature race.
And so it proved. Valsecchi used all his experience to feign inside and then blow outside and by Ricci before the chicane on lap 14, then reeled in Herck and easily disposing of him on the long back straight five laps later: the Italian led the final lap to claim another stylish win by two seconds over Herck and Ricci, who nevertheless delighted their team with two strong podium finishes ahead of Perez, who just held on ahead of the other charging iSport car of Turvey. Chilton’s eventful race ended with the final point for sixth place, just holding on ahead of the ever charging Bianchi and Charles Pic.
Valsecchi was soon celebrating on the podium, his championship lead stretching further away from teammate Turvey by 35 points to 16, with Rossi in third place on 10 points, while iSport appear to be running away with teams’ championship on 51 points, well ahead of DPR’s 15 points at the close of the second Abu Dhabi round of the GP2 Asia Series.