GP2 Series

Palmer Takes First GP2 Win In Monaco Sprint After Start Carnage

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Jolyon Palmer - Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Palmer escaped after a chaotic start to the race - Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Jolyon Palmer put his dreadful start to the GP2 season behind him and claimed his first win after a chaotic start to the Monaco sprint race.

The iSport International driver, whose car was rebuilt for this weekend after a streak of mechanical gremlins during the previous rounds in 2011, made a great start from third on the grid to go down the inside of poleman and local racer Stephane Richelmi into Ste Devote.

Richelmi wouldn't make it out of the corner though. Going three wide into the first corner, James Calado got squeezed between Richelmi and the protruding barrier on the left-hand-side, leading to contact between the pair that pitched Richelmi off down the escape road. He was joined by the other Monegasque driver in the field, Stefano Coletti, who had had contact with feature race winner Johnny Cecotto.

There was more chaos on the run up to Massenet however, as Cecotto spun. This caused a chain reaction behind that led to Felipe Nasr flying up into the air after running into the back of Victor Guerin's car. A number of other cars were also eliminated, including championship leader Davide Valsecchi who was clipped by the spinning Cecotto. That came after he had made a very poor getaway from the grid.

The wreckage was cleared under the safety car, and when the race got going again there was a British 1-2-3, with Palmer leading Calado and Max Chilton. Calado had sustained damage to his front wining however in the collision with Richelmi, and was struggling for pace. That allowed Palmer to streak away up front and build a comfortable lead, while the remaining drivers queued up behind Calado.

They were released however when Calado was given a black-and-orange flag, forcing him to pit and drop well behind the tail of the field. He would later return to the pits and retire, bringing to an end a staggering run of 56 consecutive race finishes, stretching back to the 2010 British F3 season opener at Oulton Park.

Chilton set about closing the nine second gap to Palmer, but the latter responded to maintain his advantage. In the second half of the race Chilton began closing rapidly, but Palmer was able to cross the line one second ahead.

Giedo van der Garde finished in third place, just ahead of Marcus Ericsson. Rodolfo Gonzalez finished fifth to score only his third GP2 points finish, his first since Spa 2010. He held off pressure earlier in the race from Luiz Razia, who claimed the fastest lap of the race on the final tour.

Nathanael Berthon was seventh, half a second ahead of Esteban Gutierrez who had started on the penultimate row of the grid. Simon Trummer, Josef Kral, Rio Haryanto and Nigel Melker were the only other drivers to make the finish.

Despite Valsecchi’s retirement, he has extended his points lead over the course of the weekend from 25 to 31 points over Razia. Van der Garde is up into third place, 56 points behind Valsecchi, with Chilton fourth and Calado fifth. The next round takes place on the Valencia Street Circuit in four weeks’ time.

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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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