Valsecchi takes Monaco victory
|By Glenn Freeman||Friday, May 27th 2011, 10:43 GMT|
Davide Valsecchi took a lights to flag victory for AirAsia in the first GP2 race of the weekend on the streets of Monaco.
The Italian inherited the lead when polesitter Sam Bird stalled at the start. He then controlled the pace during the early laps as a pack of cars formed behind him, before upping his pace from lap six onwards.
Valsecchi had the race in control from then on as he built up a safe lead over second-placed Alvaro Parente. But that advantage was wiped out in the closing stages when the safety car was called out after Marcus Ericsson lost his rear wing.
The race leader was initially cautious after the restart, but he unleashed his true pace on the penultimate lap to set the fastest lap of the race and bring home a commanding victory - the first for the AirAsia team.
Behind Parente, who is standing in for Christian Vietoris at Racing Engineering again this weekend, Luca Filippi (Super Nova) made use of a late pitstop to climb from 11th place to third.
Romain Grosjean's progress was even more impressive though, as he employed the same tactic to rise from the back of the grid (26th) to finish fourth for DAMS.
Stefano Coletti (Trident) had to settle for fifth after being held up by the yet-to-pit Julian Leal (Rapax) as Filippi and Grosjean were putting in their fast laps, while Arden's Josef Kral and Carlin team-mates Oliver Turvey and Max Chilton completed the points.
Bird retained his championship lead, despite his stall from pole position, and another clash with iSport team-mate Ericsson later in the race. The pair came together as Bird tried to pass at the final corner, and they came to blows on the following lap at Mirabeau.
Ericsson then lost his rear wing exiting the tunnel, and Bird also retired with damage to the front of his car.
Other frontrunners to hit trouble included Jules Bianchi and Giedo van der Garde. The ART driver ran into the back of the Addax car at the chicane, damaging both Dallaras.
Bianchi pitted for repairs but then stopped at the pit exit, while van der Garde was given the black and orange flag because his rear wing was loose after the clash.
Results - 41 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Davide Valsecchi AirAsia 1h00m23.957s 2. Alvaro Parente Racing Engineering + 1.471s 3. Luca Filippi Super Nova + 2.199s 4. Romain Grosjean DAMS + 4.219s 5. Stefano Coletti Trident + 14.023s 6. Josef Kral Arden + 14.467s 7. Oliver Turvey Carlin + 15.057s 8. Max Chilton Carlin + 16.071s 9. Charles Pic Addax + 19.524s 10. Fabio Leimer Rapax + 19.934s 11. Kevin Mirocha Ocean + 26.692s 12. Kevin Ceccon Coloni + 27.315s 13. Esteban Gutierrez ART + 33.427s 14. Michael Herck Coloni + 44.243s 15. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova + 1 lap Retirements: Julian Leal Rapax 35 laps Jolyon Palmer Arden 33 laps Sam Bird iSport 30 laps Marcus Ericsson iSport 30 laps Giedo van der Garde Addax 22 laps Dani Clos Racing Engineering 21 laps Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident 19 laps Luiz Razia AirAsia 19 laps Johnny Cecotto Ocean 17 laps Jules Bianchi ART 11 laps Pal Varhaug DAMS 10 laps