Davide Valsecchi backed up his second place finish in the GP2 Asia feature race at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi with a masterful drive through the field to take the sprint race victory.
After following home team mate Oliver Turvey in yesterdays feature race, Valsecchi's victory means that with half the series completed, Davide has a comfortable 19 point advantage, while the team, iSport, have 51 points from the 4 races, with DPR second with 15 points.
The race start saw series debutant Max Chilton start on pole, as the top 8 from the feature race get reversed for the second race. However, Chilton failed to take advantage and saw the DPR car of Michael Herck take the lead into the first corner after Chilton held up the second row starters of American youngster Alexander Rossi and Herck's DPR team mate Giacomo Ricci.
Row 3 starts Javier Villa and Jules Bianchi both started from the pits, Villa with Starter Motor problems, Javier had this to say about his overall race: “I was unlucky today, but overall it has been a good weekend. Bearing in mind that I had no previous experience of the circuit or the team, I was pleased with the way I qualified and with my drive in yesterday's race. With the changes we made overnight I felt sure I could win today – and at the very least record a podium finish. After my starter motor problems, though, I just did the best I could.”
Further back, Czech driver Josef Kral was caught up in the melee between the Barwa Addax car of Mexican Sergio Perez and the MalaysiaQi-Meritus.com car of Italian Luca Filippi. The Safety Car was deployed to clear away the damaged car of Kral.
Josef had this to say about his retirement: “I had a good start again but chose the wrong side of the track to go for the first corner, allowing Valsecchi to get past me again. I was pushing hard behind the two Isport cars when they broke earlier than I expected and this allowed Filippi to close in. I saw him coming to overtake in my mirrors at the next corner and we touched. Perez then got a good run on me as a result and moved to go around the outside of me. At the same time Filippi came up the inside and I had nowhere to go, we had hard contact and I retired. It is a shame because the car felt better than yesterday so we could have had a really good result today. I feel confidant for next time as we did a good job but unfortunately had no good results.”
Once the Safety car came in, the DPR team looked set for their first ever 1,2 finish after Ricci found a way past Rossi, while further back, Perez was starting to recover from the mayhem between him, Flippi and Kral by passing Race One victor Oliver Turvey.
Jules Bianchi, who had started from the pits, was putting in a blinder of a drive, and was passing cars where nobody else would have dreamt of, and he was unwilling to use his brakes in the overtaking manoeuvres.
With 10 laps to go, all the teams had wet tyres out for their drivers, as the clouds closed in and started to look threatening, meaning the final 10 laps could reproduce the excitement of the feature race from the day before.
Up front, iSport's Championship leader Valsecchi was catching the DPR Cars, and by lap 14 had caught and passed Ricci, by feign to the inside before passing and then set his sights on catching the leader, and a series of fastest laps meant that, with 3 laps to go, Herck had Valsecchi right on his tail, and the experience then told, he took the lead on the long back straight, 5 laps after passing team mate Ricci. Valsecchi took the chequered flag 2 seconds up the road from the DPR pair, with Perez in fourth, being chased down by a fast Turvey, with pole man Chilton holding off the fired up Bianchi and the feature race Pole man Charles Pic for the final point in sixth. For Max, it meant a double points finish on his GP2 Asia series debut. Max, the younger brother of British Touring Car Championship driver Tom, said about his debut: “I have only just begun my learning phase in the GP2 Series. I didn’t want to take any risks in the last few laps and made sure I secured 6th place. It was a good weekend and I’m looking forward to Bahrain, I’m sure together with Ocean Racing Technology we will improve.”
For Pic, the overall weekend had been encouraging and Race 2 saw him set some of the races fastest laps, Pic went on to say: “I didn't make such a good start – again – and that is something I have to work on. I was pleased with my pace, though. My best lap time was one of the fastest three in the race and I know there is more to come. It's a little bit frustrating to come away with results like this after being quick in every session and starting from pole yesterday, but generally things have been positive. When we get to Bahrain I just need to sort out my starts and, perhaps, adapt a slightly more forceful approach when I'm overtaking.”
Valsecchi, the delighted race winner had this to say about the race: “I am really happy, we are leading the Championship and we are really strong. The track is nice and good. It is really fun to drive as during the races there is always a lot of overtaking. The car, the team, we were incredibly strong; it is our moment now I want to use it to win. Fantastic job, thank you to all the team, it was perfect.”
Racing Steps Foundation backed team mate Turvey has this to say about today's race: “I got a good start and got ahead of Davide but he managed to get me back on the first lap. After that I got stuck behind Chilton and unfortunately we couldn't get by him until too late in the race, it was a bit frustrating. But once I got by him the pace was really good and we were really quick so we ended up with second quickest lap I think. It was good to finish fifth and get two more points. I managed to overtake Rossi at the end and get a few more points and consolidate second in the Championship.”
The next rounds of the Champion happen at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain over the 26th – 28th February before the season finale when the FIA Formula One World Championship arrives on the 12th – 14th March.