James Calado takes first GP2 points-paying win for Lotus in Sepang sprint race
|By Charles Bradley||Sunday, March 25th 2012, 06:57 GMT|
James Calado scored his maiden points-paying GP2 victory at Sepang on Sunday to add to the non-championship win he claimed at Yas Marina last year.
The British driver started from pole position on the reversed grid and went on to dominate from once again. He was chased home by his Lotus team-mate Esteban Gutierrez.
The closest Gutierrez got to him (besides almost hitting him on the warm-up lap at the final corner while practicing a start) was under braking for Turn 1, but Calado held both his nerve and the lead. Behind the Lotus cars, Felipe Nasr kept third for DAMS, ahead of Coloni's Stefano Coletti and Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer.
The opening lap was a barnstormer, as Coletti nipped past Nasr at Turn 4, getting ahead for only a corner before running wide and dropping to sixth. Caterham's Giedo van deer Garde passed Leimer to snatch fourth while feature race winner Luiz Razia overtook Davide Valsecchi, the Arden driver overhauling the DAMS man for seventh.
Valsecchi then came under attack from Carlin's Max Chilton and Lazarus driver Fabrizio Crestani, the latter hitting his Italian compatriot at Turn 1 on the second lap and receiving a drive-through penalty for his error.
The race settled down with Calado managing the gap expertly ahead of Gutierrez, the two black and gold machines circulating up front with Andretti/Peterson-like synchronicity.
The next real action unfolded on lap 14, when Valsecchi attacked Razia in the battle for seventh. Saturday's top two entered Turn 1 side-by-side, and although Valsecchi lunged past at Turn 4, he ran wide, allowing Razia and Chilton through.
Marcus Ericsson also tried to nip past in his iSport car, but made contact with Valsecchi's left-rear wheel at the apex of the ultra-fast Turn 5, flipping the Italian onto his rollhoop. Valsecchi's car slid upside-down into the gravel, coming to rest back on his wheels. The Italian was dazed but unhurt.
As Calado rattled off the laps to score a perfectly-judged victory by two seconds over Gutierrez and take the first points-paying win for ART since its rebranding as Lotus, the battle of the final laps concerned Coletti, who slipped back as his car lost pace. First Razia, then Chilton passed him, and he ultimately gave up the ghost and retired in the pits.
The final pass for a major position came on the penultimate lap, as Razia pulled a sublime move on Leimer for fifth at the final turn, and closed to within 0.6s of van der Garde, who limped home some 7.4s behind third-placed Nasr.
Razia continues to lead the points, opening up a healthy seven-point margin over non-finisher Valsecchi. Calado moves up to third ahead of Gutierrez and Valsecchi.
Results - 22 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. James Calado Lotus 41m08.048s 2. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus + 2.004s 3. Felipe Nasr DAMS + 3.440s 4. Giedo van der Garde Caterham + 10.760s 5. Luiz Razia Arden + 11.430s 6. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering + 14.689s 7. Max Chilton Carlin + 15.685s 8. Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering + 16.578s 9. Josef Kral Addax + 18.175s 10. Rio Haryanto Carlin + 24.033s 11. Tom Dillmann Rapax + 24.086s 12. Jolyon Palmer iSport + 25.547s 13. Fabio Onidi Coloni + 32.206s 14. Nigel Melker Ocean + 34.500s 15. Julian Leal Trident + 34.629s 16. Simon Trummer Arden + 35.226s 17. Jon Lancaster Ocean + 40.340s 18. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham + 44.700s 19. Stephane Richelmi Trident + 47.133s 20. Giancarlo Serenelli Lazarus + 1m10.466s 21. Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus + 1m21.035s 22. Johnny Cecotto Jr Addax + 1 lap 23. Stefano Coletti Coloni + 2 laps 24. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax + 3 laps Did not finish: Marcus Ericsson iSport 13 laps Davide Valsecchi DAMS 13 laps