De Marco clinches race one victory in Valencia
Italy’s Nicola De Marco took a commanding victory in the opening FIA Formula Two Championship contest at Valencia today (Saturday 18 September), as Britain’s Dean Stoneman secured the 2010 title with a top ten finish.
|(L to R) Will Bratt, Nicola De Marco and Armaan Ebrahim atop the race one podium|
After securing pole position in qualifying, De Marco controlled the race from lights-to-flag to secure his second victory of the season, following a maiden win at Brno, Czech Republic in July.
The Italian faced constant pressure during today’s encounter from Briton Will Bratt, who made up two places from his fourth place grid slot to move into second off the start line before staying on De Marco's tail throughout the race.
"That was a fantastic race, I'm really happy with it," De Marco said. "Will stayed near me for the whole race so it was difficult, but it was really important for me to make another win."
A delighted Armaan Ebrahim maintained his career-best third place grid position to take his maiden F2 podium result, whilst Philipp Eng and Sergey Afanasiev managed to scythe past Benjamin Lariche in the final stages of the 25 lap race to snatch fourth and fifth respectively. Lariche had defended gallantly until that point, the Frenchman showing strong pace throughout the weekend around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Behind Lariche, a fierce battle raged throughout race one for seventh position, with title protagonist Jolyon Palmer fending off several challenges from Belgium's Benjamin Bailly.
The duo were also joined in an early tussle by Dean Stoneman, although after realising that he only needed to keep Palmer within four places of him to win the championship, Stoneman eased off to cruise over the line in ninth place as the newly-crowned F2 title holder.
"It's fantastic to be sitting in this position," said Stoneman. "Hopefully now with the Formula 1 test I can prove myself and go further on in motorsport."
Ivan Samarin rounded out the top ten, ahead of an entertaining race-long scrap between Johannes Theobald and Kelvin Snoeks.
Snoeks was involved in an opening lap drama, as the Dutch driver clashed with Kazim Vasiliauskas at the first corner. The contact caused Vasiliauskas' car to barrel roll into the gravel, but thankfully the Lithuanian walked away unharmed.
Aside from Kazim, the only other retirement from the race was Natalia Kowalska, who pulled off at turn 11 with mechanical problems.
Although the title chase has been decided, five drivers are still in contention for third in the championship and the prize of FIA Superlicence eligibility. Today's result sees Afanasiev retain third, although Will Bratt and Philipp Eng move to within three and five points respectively of the Russian.
FIA Formula Two Championship - Valencia - Race One:
1. Nicola De Marco, 24 Laps
2. Will Bratt, +1.210s
3. Armaan Ebrahim, +17.815s
4. Philipp Eng,+19.142s
5. Sergey Afanasiev, +21.706s
6. Benjamin Lariche, +23.046s
7. Jolyon Palmer, +23.667s
8. Benjamin Bailly, +24.017s
9. Dean Stoneman, +25.410s
10. Ivan Samarin, +30.207s