GP2 SeriesOpen Wheel

Valsecchi Wins Monaco Feature Race For AirAsia

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Davide Valsecchi scored the new Team AirAsia their first GP2 victory in the feature race in Monaco.

The Italian took the lead at the start when polesitter Sam Bird stalled, dropping the iSport driver to the back of the pack. Valsecchi resisted pressure from Racing Engineering stand-in Alvaro Parente in the early stages, before building up an advantage over the Portuguese in the middle of the race. A safety car in the latter stages removed his advantage, but he pulled away again after the restart to win.

Behind Parente, Luca Filippi finished third. The Italian Super Nova driver was running tenth before the pitstops, but stayed out longer before making his pitstop, setting a string of fastest lap times at the head of the field. When he did make his stop he was able to emerge in third place.

Deploying a similar strategy to Filippi was Romain Grosjean, who started in last place after a disastrous qualifying session that saw him run into DAMS teammate Pal Varhaug. He made up a host of places at the start and then ran second on the road behind Filippi during the pitstops, emerging just behind in fourth place.

Monegasque driver Stefano Coletti scored a fifth place finish at home – the Trident man having lost out to Filippi and Grosjean during the stops having been running third beforehand. He finished just ahead of Josef Kral, with Carlin teammates Oliver Turvey and Max Chilton rounding out the top eight finishers.

However, Turvey, making his GP2 return this weekend in place of Mikhail Aleshin, would later lose that position together with his front row start for the sprint race after failing to serve a drive-through penalty awarded to him for jumping the start. This promoted Addax man Charles Pic to eighth and pole for the sprint race.

Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi ran in fourth and fifth in the early stages behind Coletti, but Bianchi ran into the Dutchman at the chicane, damaging both of their cars. Bianchi retired to the pits, while van der Garde would later be given a black and orange flag for a loose rear wing.

After his poor start Bird was making his way through the field, pushing his way past teammate Marcus Ericsson for tenth at the final corner, causing the Swede to touch the wall. They then came together at Mirabeau, leaving Ericsson without a rear wing and Bird with a deflated tyre. Bird was handed a five-place grid penalty for the first incident.

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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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