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Close GP2 Title Battle Resumes In Valencia

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The 2011 GP2 Series resumes after a four week break at the Valencia Street Circuit, in support of the Formula 1 European Grand Prix. The top five drivers in the standings arrive in the Spanish city separated by just two points following the opening three rounds of the season.

Romain Grosjean and Sam Bird lead the way currently tied on 23 points. DAMS driver Grosjean won the opening race at Istanbul to take an early standings lead, but a tough weekend at Barcelona saw him drop behind the leaders. Despite a disastrous qualifying in Monaco that saw him collide with his teammate and start from the back of the grid he recovered to finish a fantastic fourth. He then finished third in the sprint race to return to the head of the standings.

iSport's Bird has been tied for the standings lead with another driver leaving every weekend so far this season. A double podium at Istanbul was enough to see him level with Grosjean, while another strong points-scoring performance at Barcelona kept him out front. He qualified on pole at Monaco but got away slowly and dropped to the back of the grid. He was fighting his way through the field when he came together with teammate Marcus Ericsson (and not for the first time this year). He would leave the Principality without a points finish but his pole position – and the two bonus points that came with it – kept him tied for the lead.

The five men in contention as GP2 arrives in Valencia (from left to right): Bird, Valsecchi, Pic, van der Garde and Grosjean.

A sprint race win for Charles Pic in Monaco brought the Addax driver up to 22 points, just one behind Grosjean and Bird. He is the only man to have won twice so far this season, having taken a superb win in the Barcelona feature race. He will hope for a repeat performance at his team's home circuit.

Davide Valsecchi left Turkey without any points, but a maiden win for his AirAsia team in the Monaco feature race, combined with solid points in other races, has seen the former Asia Series champion move to 21 points.

Giedo van der Garde arrived in Monaco as the joint leader with Bird, but being taken out in the feature race by Jules Bianchi saw him have a point-less weekend. The Addax man is still only two points off the lead though, and will hope to take his first win of the season in Valencia.

It very much looks like a five-horse race already – with the next driver Stefano Coletti a further seven points behind. Ericsson languishes down in 12th place and will hope for a repeat of the maiden GP2 win he scored at Valencia last year.

Also hoping for much better is Jules Bianchi. The pre-season favourite is down in 13th after a series of errors and needs a win to kick-start his season.

Christian Vietoris returns to Racing Engineering from his two-round break from racing following his Istanbul shunt. The man who filled in for him at Barcelona and Monaco, Alvaro Parente, moves to Carlin to drive the car raced by Mikhail Aleshin and Oliver Turvey already this year.

Meanwhile, youngster Kevin Ceccon gets another race at Coloni in place of the injured Davide Rigon having impressed the team at Barcelona and Monaco.

Practice takes place at 11.55 on Friday, with qualifying at 15:55. The feature race is at 15:40 on Saturday afternoon, with the sprint race at 10:30 on Sunday morning.

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About author
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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