GP2 Series points leader Nico Hulkenberg dodged the shrapnel to win a chaotic sprint race at the Valencia street circuit this morning, and in doing so gave his title hopes a massive boost.
Starting from seventh on the grid, Hulkenberg made a good start to gain a few places off the line and then let various forms of attrition do the rest as those around him experimented with different ways to lose a race.
The ART driver now has a 20-point advantage over main rival Vitaly Petrov with three rounds remaining.
Sergio Perez followed up yesterday's podium with another excellent drive to second, the Mexican having to weather pressure from Petrov all the way to the line.
DAMS's Jerome D'Ambrosio drove a clean race to fourth and was pushed hard at the finish by iSport's Diego Nunes, who also enjoyed one of his strongest outings of the season so far. Karun Chandhok completed the points in sixth, denying Trident's Davide Rigon by just a few tenths.
Three appearances by the safety car within the first eight laps was a stark illustration of how messy things got elsewhere in the field.
The front row accounted for itself early on when Luca Filippi made a good start to jump polesitter Kamui Kobayashi off the line, only to make contact with the Japanese driver at Turn 2 and hit the wall.
Kobayashi continued, but his front wing was hanging askew and he was eventually flagged into the pits to have it tended to.
Lucas di Grassi, Giedo van der Garde, Andreas Zuber and Michael Herck were also first-lap casualties, while Ocean's Alvaro Parente was on target for a decent haul of points until he was hit by Edoardo Mortara, who was later issued with a drive-through penalty.
Franck Perera looked on track to score DPR's first point while running the middle portion of the race in sixth before slowing with a mechanical problem, and Durango's difficult weekend was completed when both of its cars were penalised for starting from the wrong grid position.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Nico Hulkenberg ART Grand Prix 44:36.084 2. Sergio Perez Telmex Arden International + 11.609 3. Vitaly Petrov Barwa Addax Team + 13.229 4. J.D'Ambrosio DAMS + 28.580 5. Diego Nunes iSport International + 29.195 6. Karun Chandhok Ocean Racing Technology + 31.608 7. Davide Rigon Trident Racing + 32.101 8. Pastor Maldonado ART Grand Prix + 32.742 9. Javier Villa Super Nova Racing + 34.564 10. Alberto Valerio Piquet GP + 35.784 11. Kamui Kobayashi DAMS + 39.416 12. Edoardo Mortara Telmex Arden International + 40.966 13. Luiz Razia Scuderia Coloni + 45.114 14. Ricardo Teixeira Trident Racing + 48.860 15. N.Panciatici Durango + 1'18.778 16. Franck Perera DPR + 2 Laps Retirements: Driver Team Laps Daniel Clos Racing Engineering 11 Stefano Coletti Durango 10 Álvaro Parente Ocean Racing Technology 5 Roldán Rodríguez Piquet GP 2 Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1 Davide Valsecchi Barwa Addax Team 0 Michael Herck DPR 0 G.van der Garde iSport International 0 Andreas Zuber Scuderia Coloni 0 Lucas Di Grassi Racing Engineering 0