iSport International wrapped up the 2009/2010 GP2 Asia Teams Championship in today's GP2 Asia Sprint race as Arden International took their first win of the campaign courtesy of Charles Pic's maiden GP2 Asia victory.
Off the line, all the drivers made clean starts, but the action and incidents kicked off in corner four, which saw a number of drivers involved, including the returning Alvaro Parente and Sergio Perez.
It was a case of DÃ©jÃ Vou for the new Champion, iSport International Davide Valsecchi as he was taken out and forced to pit for repairs, and lost a lap. This signalled the end of his 5 race top 2 run, as he crossed the line down in 20th. Davide explains his race: “I had a good start but it was very tight and I got hit and lost my front wing. I lost a lot of time getting to
The pits and having a new front wing on so I was a lap behind. After that the car was perfect and I had good speed but I was too far behind to catch up. The team are Champions today which is fantastic for everyone so we can go into the next race in Bahrain with no pressure and have a good race in front of the F1 people”.
Up front, series returnee and pole sitter Adrian Zaugg avoided all the carnage and led away the chasing pack, and he held the lead until lap 4, when Charles Pic passed and set about driving to a popular maiden win.
Behind, however, Zaugg slipped back very quickly as Giacomo Ricci (DPR0, Javier Villa (Arden International) and Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix) all got passed or attempted to pass.
The decisive moment at the front of the race saw Zaugg try to retaliate to Ricci and Jules Bianchi made it 3 a breast along the final straight and as the three of them went into the first corner, Ricci defended the corner and Bianchi made contact with Zaugg and saw Bianchi pit and retire, while Zaugg finished 19th.
After this, Pic, Ricci and Villa settled down and charged away from the chasing pack, Ricci and Villa tried to catch Pic, but whenever Ricci cut the gap, Pic rebuilt it. The main action was happening behind, Sam Bird, who started 10th was climbing his way to fourth place and his first GP2 points, while the even more impressive Edoardo Piscopo started 15th and finished 5th, while iSports Oliver Turvey took the last point in 6th, all 3 of them having passed the Rapax car of Daniele Zampieri, who ended up 8th, as team mate Vladimir Arabadzhiev also got passed.
At the chequered flag, Pic took a comfortable win by 3.585 seconds from DPR's Ricci with Villa 6 seconds behind in third.
Speaking after the race, a delighted Charles Pic commented about his maiden win: “What a fantastic result! I am so happy to score a victory on my first visit to this circuit. I didn't make the best of starts, but I got a good, clean line through the first two turns and was able to claw back a couple of places when Alvaro Parente and Sergio Perez collided. Once I settled into second place I realised I was quite a bit faster than Adrian Zaugg, but it was tricky to pass him during the first few laps because he was driving very defensively. I worked hard to create an opportunity, though, and eventually managed to get through at Turn 11.
“Once I had the lead I put my head down and focused on driving as quickly as I could to pull away from Giacomo Ricci. Everything felt straightforward during the first half of the race, although I then had to push very hard because Ricci was closing the gap. Towards the end, though, I was able to ease away again.
“I'd like to thank the team for all their hard work – everyone has done a great job this weekend and that created a platform for my first GP2 win. The car was brilliant today. The circuit will have been extended when we come back here in a fortnight, but we clearly have a good baseline set-up for the next two races. That won't stop us trying to make it even better, though, and I know there is still some more to come from me…”
Javier Villa backed up his 3rd place in race one with another 3rd place finish, and completed an Arden 1, 3 finish. Javier said about his race: “I have had a very good weekend, finishing third in qualifying and both races. I have felt very comfortable in the car all weekend and the only slight setback has been our pace towards the end of long runs, when the tyres begin to fade. That wasn't a major drama, though, and I know we'll be in better shape when we next race here, because the Formula One cars will lay down lots of rubber and the circuit will have more grip. The team has done a fantastic job and we have been very competitive all weekend, but I'm sure we'll be even stronger when we come back. Arden has a chance to finish in the top three in the championship for teams – and I feel confident that we'll do it.”
Giacomo Ricci had this to say about his race: “At the start of the race, my car was a bit difficult to drive. I had a lot of oversteering and I didn't have enough grip. When my car improved and I was second, Pic was already too far away and I couldn't catch him. I tried to push hard, but I also had to be careful not to make a mistake because Villa was not too far behind eitherâ€¦ But in the end, I'm very glad with this second place. This is my second podium this season.”
Oliver Turvey's 6th place finish confirmed iSport International as the Champions of the 2009/2010 GP2 Asia Series, and Turvey commented on his race and aims for the season finale: “I lost some places at the start but managed to stay clear of all the accidents. After a few people dropped out I was in seventh with Sam Bird right behind me. I lost a few places to Bird, Bianchi and Zaugg but after they took each other out I was back up to seventh. My car felt pretty good towards the end and Zampieri was struggling so I managed to overtake him when he ran wide. I'm pleased with a point, it's very close for second in the driver's championship so I'm looking forward to the next race in Bahrain where I'll aim to take second in the driver's championship to top off a great championship for the team”.
Heading to the season finale in 2 weeks time, again at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, the battle for second place in both the drivers and teams Championships is still very much alive, with 2 points separating DPR's Giacomo Ricci and iSports Oliver Turvey. 3 points covers the drivers in second to 5th, and any of them will fancy their chances of finishing behind Valsecchi. In the teams Championship, a strong weekend for Arden International means they climb into second, 2 points ahead of DPR.
The final rounds of the season are alongside the opening round of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship on the 12th to 14th March.