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Monza Auto GP: Kimiya Sato takes superb win in Monza rain

Kimiya Sato wins Monza Auto GPKimiya Sato scored a superlative victory at a soaked Monza in the final race of Auto GP's season opening meeting.

The Japanese racer, a German Formula 3 graduate, achieved a remarkable 20-second winning margin over Formula 2 champion Luciano Bacheta in a faultless display.

"I was only expecting, perhaps, a podium entering this weekend," said Sato. "I was pushing quite hard, even though there was a lot of aquaplaning during the race, but my car felt really easy to drive."

Standing water from persistent rain necessitated a safety-car start. But when green flags were produced at the conclusion of lap three, Euronova Racing's Sato demonstrated supreme confidence in intense spray.

The Japanese racer charged from sixth place onto the tail of reversed-grid polesitter and early leader Bacheta inside one lap.

The leading duo rapidly extended a six-second cushion over third-place man Vittorio Ghirelli. Aware of the stunning rate of his pursuer's progress, Bacheta elected not to jeopardise a likely podium when Sato lunged into the Roggia braking zone on lap five.

"I was pretty happy to finish second given it was such a last minute deal," said Bacheta, who only agreed terms with Zele Racing last week.

"I saw how fast Kimiya was closing, even in that spray, so I didn't see too much point in taking a risk and putting up a really big fight."

Sato grabbed the lead without fluster and, enjoying relatively clear visibility, immediately found a 2.6s improvement in pace and built a lead of over 13s.

The leaders held position through their late mandatory pitstops. There was a final piece of drama when Ghirelli, blinded by a wall of water, failed to see the chequered flag and came close to riding over the back of the slowing Bacheta, avoiding contact only by pitching his Super Nova car into a spin.

Race one winner Sergio Campana finished fourth, and in the latter stages was one of the few drivers to approach Sato's lap times.

Robert Visoiu, Ghinzani, Monza Auto GP 2013Front-row starter Riccardo Agostini's race was compromised when an orange and white-striped plastic cone became lodged in his front left suspension, inducing excessive understeer.

Agostini would end the afternoon a solid fifth, six seconds ahead of Romanian Robert Visoiu, who survived a brief excursion down Turn 1's escape road (pictured).

Former Formula 1 racer Narain Karthikeyan pitted from fourth place with a technical issue on lap one.

Results - 14 laps:

Pos  Driver               Team            Time/Gap
 1.  Kimiya Sato          Euronova      32m25.073s
 2.  Luciano Bacheta      Zele           + 20.020s
 3.  Vittorio Ghirelli    Super Nova     + 21.830s
 4.  Sergio Campana       Ibiza          + 25.146s
 5.  Riccardo Agostini    Manor MP       + 41.792s
 6.  Robert Visoiu        Ghinzani       + 47.008s
 7.  Yoshitaka Kuroda     Euronova       + 52.956s
 8.  Michele la Rosa      MLR 71         + 58.044s
 9.  Antonio Spavone      Super Nova   + 1m03.175s
10.  Meinhart van Buuren  Manor MP     + 1m05.754s
11.  Andrea Roda          Virtuosi UK  + 1m10.991s
12.  Giacomo Ricci        MLR 71           + 1 lap
13.  Giuseppe Cipriani    Ibiza           + 7 laps


     Narain Karthikeyan   Zele               1 lap
     Maxim Snegirev       Virtuosi UK       0 laps

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