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Monza GP2: Fabio Leimer denies Sam Bird win and takes points lead

Fabio Leimer, Racing Engineering, leads Sam Bird, Monza GP2 2013

Fabio Leimer took the GP2 series points lead by fending off charging poleman Sam Bird to win a thrilling Monza feature race.

Russian Time driver Bird lost his advantage off the startline as fellow front-row man Leimer (Racing Engineering) leapt into the lead using the medium-compound tyre, which gave him a better launch than Bird's hard rubber.

They ran divergent strategies as a result, with Leimer pitting from the lead on lap 12, despite suffering from a vibration at the rear of his car in the opening stint, switching onto four new hard tyres.

On the harder tyres, Bird stayed out until lap 20 to switch to four fresh mediums. However, his right-rear wheel proved tricky to attach and he was slow to rejoin, and his 36.6-second lead over Leimer was turned into a 4.1s deficit.

"What happened in the pitstop guys?" asked Bird rhetorically on the radio later. "That was a shame."

Despite cutting Leimer's lead to half a second with three laps remaining, Bird's softer tyres then seemed to wilt in the closing laps, and he could not get close enough to make a move. He finished 0.8s behind at the finish.

Bird also reported he had "too much understeer in the first and second Lesmos. He was just unstoppable compared to us. It was a fun race though."

Leimer now leads the championship with 153 points, eight ahead of Bird, while former points leader Stefano Coletti is now 18 points adrift.

"I want to focus race by race, and then we'll see what happens at the end of the season," said Leimer.

Coletti was running fifth when he received a drivethrough penalty for speeding in the pits, and would later retire with a handful of laps remaining.

Fabio Leimer wins Monza GP2 race 2013

Bird's team-mate Tom Dillmann finished third, over 5s in arrears, ahead of Stephane Richelmi and Julian Leal, who all ran long first stints.

James Calado suffered a terrible start but salvaged sixth position, chased home by fellow Brit Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.

Caterham duo Alexander Rossi and Sergio Canamasas, along with Vittorio Ghirelli, rounded out the point scorers.

It was a disastrous race for Carlin. Jolyon Palmer was in the mix for the podium until his left-rear wheel fell off at Lesmo 1 after his pitstop, while title-contending team-mate Felipe Nasr suffered a hydraulic leak that forced him out of a points-paying position.

Results - 30 laps:

Pos  Driver               Team                  Time/Gap
 1.  Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering  47m48.311s
 2.  Sam Bird             Russian Time           +0.806s
 3.  Tom Dillmann         Russian Time           +6.137s
 4.  Stephane Richelmi    DAMS                   +9.902s
 5.  Julian Leal          Racing Engineering    +15.400s
 6.  James Calado         ART                   +18.748s
 7.  Adrian Quaife-Hobbs  Hilmer                +24.007s
 8.  Alexander Rossi      Caterham              +30.276s
 9.  Sergio Canamasas     Caterham              +40.272s
10.  Vittorio Ghirelli    Lazarus               +44.906s
11.  Daniel de Jong       MP                    +46.540s
12.  Johnny Cecotto Jr    Arden                 +47.382s
13.  Jon Lancaster        Hilmer                +47.635s
14.  Rio Haryanto         Addax                 +48.003s
15.  Sergio Campana       Trident               +50.194s
16.  Rene Binder          Lazarus             +1m02.186s
17.  Daniel Abt           ART                     +1 lap
18.  Dani Clos            MP                      +1 lap


     Stefano Coletti      Rapax                  24 laps
     Felipe Nasr          Carlin                 18 laps
     Marcus Ericsson      DAMS                   16 laps
     Jolyon Palmer        Carlin                 11 laps
     Jake Rosenzweig      Addax                   4 laps
     Mitch Evans          Arden                    1 lap
     Simon Trummer        Rapax                    1 lap
     Nathanael Berthon    Trident                 0 laps
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