GP2: Round 18 – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – Sun Sep 7

The weather hung heavy over the spring race of the G2 weekend at Spa, with white lines proving hazardous and the drivers getting a little too inclined to play bumper cars.

It had rained shortly before the start of the race, leaving the track greasy, but the forecast looked set to allow the track to dry rapidly and so the teams had no choice but to risk sending everyone out on slicks regardless.

Jerome d’Ambrosio had inherited the sprint pole after yesterday’s exclusion of Andi Zuber, and he converted that into a solid lead going into La Source. Mike Conway, on the other hand, had a dreadful start from the other side of the front row and lost a bunch of places. Luca Filippi and Lucas di Grassi made incredible starts from 19th and 20th ending up sandwiching 11th-placed Bruno Senna by the end of the first lap. The three were intensively battling between themselves, all the while making up places by passing others.

Toward the front, Pastor Maldonardo quickly made light work of Sebastien Buemi and VItaly Petrov to run third behind d’Ambrosio and Andy Soucek, when a safety car came out on lap five for multiple accidents involving Conway, Alberto Valerio and Alvaro Parente all going into the wall after finding the white lines on the track to be lethal when wet.

With tyres cooled by the stint behind the yellow flag, the start was a perilous affair with much bumping and grinding and various near misses involving Filippi, Senna, di Grassi, Kamui Kobayashi and Diego Nunes, who hit Filippi as the field contracted before the green flag flew going into the final corner.

D’Ambrosio had the restart under control as others faltered; feature race winner Romain Grosjean spun himself on the white lines at Stavelot and lost several places, dropping out of the top ten, while Senna locked up at the end of Blanchimont trying to overtake Buemi, clipped him and spun, forcing the Brazilian into the pits with a broken front wing and into retirement. With Pantano excluded and Grosjean out of the points, it was a very bad day for the leaders of the GP2 championship.

Maldonado and Soucek had a great battle for much of the race, until Soucek pushed it too far into Stavelot and touched the white line with the inevitable race-ending results for Soucek – but which left Maldonardo now in second with the opportunity for a last attempt at taking the lead from d’Ambrosio who had led for the entire first 17 of 18 laps

The weather was worsening by this stage, with the moisture in the rain turning into drizzle that was making the situation even more difficult, but Maldonardo seemed unphased but his and his pace was clearly faster than d’Ambrosio exiting Eau Rouge, and climbing up to Les Combes he made a superb overtaking move that the leader had no answer for. Maldonardo led only half a lap the entire race – but it was the final half lap and that’s all that really matters in racing.

GP2’s final weekend is at Monza next week, where the title will be decided. Pantano leads Senna by 11pts going in, after Senna picked up the bonus points for the feature pole yesterday.

Race results:

Pos  Driver        Team                      Time
 1.  Maldonado      Piquet Sports           39:35.698
 2.  D'Ambrosio     Dams                     + 1.256
 3.  Petrov         Barwa Campos Team        + 5.439
 4.  Buemi          Trust Team Arden         + 6.390
 5.  Di Grassi      Barwa Campos Team        + 7.222
 6.  Kobayashi      Dams                     + 7.890
 7.  Valsecchi      Durango                  + 8.213
 8.  Chandhok       iSport International     + 8.767
 9.  Villa          Racing Engineering       + 12.199
10.  Grosjean       ART Grand Prix           + 16.317
11.  Tung           Trident Racing           + 17.065
12.  Herck          DPR                      + 18.351
13.  Iaconelli      BCN Competicion          + 20.023
14.  Valles         BCN Competicion          + 20.350

Retirements:

    Driver              Team                      Laps
    Soucek              Super Nova Racing           15
    Filippi             Trust Team Arden            12
    Asmer               FMS International           10
    Senna               iSport International        9
    Nunes               DPR                         7
    Parente             Super Nova Racing           5
    Valerio             Durango                     5
    Conway              Trident Racing              4
    Rodriguez           FMS International           4
    Yamamoto            ART Grand Prix              2
    Zuber               Piquet Sports               1
Fastest lap: Maldonado, 1:58.860 on lap 5

Championship standings:

Pos Driver  Points
1   Giorgio Pantano     71
2   Bruno Senna         60
3   Lucas Di Grassi     53
4   Romain Grosjean     53
5   Pastor Maldonado    48
6   Sebastien Buemi     44
7   Vitaly Petrov       39
8   Alvaro Parente      34
9   Andreas Zuber       32
10  Karun Chandhok      31
11  Mike Conway         20
12  Jerome D'Ambrosio   18
13  Andy Soucek         14
14  Kamui Kobayashi     10
15  Javier Villa         8
16  Ho-Pin Tung          7
17  Luca Filippi         6
18  Roldan Rodriguez     6
19  Yelmer Buurman       5
20  Adrian Valles        5
21  Davide Valsecchi     4
22  Diego Nunes          3
23  Sakon Yamamoto       3
24  Benjamin Hanley      1
25  Adam Carroll         1

Pos Team    Points
1   Barwa Int. Campos Team  93
2   iSport International    91
3   Piquet Sports           80
4   Racing Engineering      79
5   ART Grand Prix          61
6   Trust Team Arden        50
7   Super Nova Racing       47
8   DAMS                    28
9   Trident Racing          27
10  FMS International        7
11  BCN Competicion          5
12  DPR                      4
13  Durango                  4
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