Another Sunday Win for Pla

Olivier Pla took his second consecutive Sunday win in race two at Hockenheim, pushing hard from pole to open up a gap to his rivals at the start, and finishing almost seven seconds ahead of Giorgio Pantano, Scott Speed and Nico Rosberg

Another Sunday Win for Pla

The Frenchman made a storming start off the line to lead fellow front row starter Borja Garcia into turn one, followed by Pantano and Speed. Behind them title rivals Heikki Kovalainen and Nico Rosberg were scrapping, and both drivers ran wide over the asphault run off before following the top four through turn two.

Rosberg obviously felt aggrieved by the Finn's staunch defence of the position, but a lap later he was presented with an opportunity to rectify the situation when Kovalainen ran slightly wide at the hairpin - it was all Rosberg needed, and he was through on the inside and off in pursuit of Speed mere seconds later.

Further back Nelson Piquet was struggling with a slow looking car, and the Brazilian's usual smooth driving style was becoming ragged in defence of his eighth position under the attack of Alex Premat and Hiroki Yoshimoto.

There were no such dramas for Pla, who was sailing on serenely at the front of the pack and pulling away from Garcia, who was dropping back towards the clutches of Pantano. Garcia lost three spots in as many laps, with Pantano, Speed and Rosberg all passing the Spaniard on the inside of the hairpin a lap apart.

With the top four positions settling down the action was hotting up further back. On lap eight Yoshimoto went for a gap inside of Premat at turn two, but the Frenchman cut back sharply into the corner and the pair collided before running side by side through the next series of corners.

Premat held the position and Yoshimoto sat and waited for another opportunity, which came two laps later. The Japanese driver looked to have made the move stick this time, but he ran slightly wide and found the marbles, causing his car to wobble and allowing the pursuing Jose Maria Lopez and Adam Carroll to gratefully took the position from him.

Further up the road Kovalainen was unable to make many inroads into the gap between him and Garcia, and his teammate Nicolas Lapierre was all over his rear wing and looking for the final points paying position, compelling the Finn to spend more time looking into his mirrors than at the man further up the road.

On lap 22 Yoshimoto stopped on the front straight, his car having given up after the punishment meted out earlier in the race, with the Japanese driver jumping the fence into yet another retirement that he didn't deserve.

Pla was now more than four seconds ahead of Pantano, who was soaking up enormous pressure from Speed and Rosberg for a number of laps despite his tyres clearing past their best.

The pressure came to a head on lap 23 when Pantano locked up his tyres into the stadium complex; Speed looked to go around the outside but the move was never going to happen, and Pantano ran back across to cover.

This gave Rosberg the chance he'd be patiently waiting for, and he pushed inside the pair at the next corner. He was easily by Speed and alongside Pantano, but he was unable to hold the car in the dirty air and his car was tipped into a spin.

Rosberg was clearly furious with himself afterwards, despite not losing any positions to his pursuers, and he set about a series of laps that showed just how much pace the ART team have put into his car. He was four seconds behind at the end of the lap before running the fastest lap of the race, and was back onto Speed's tail just two laps later.

But he had run out of time, as Pla was across the line to record his second win of the season, with a struggling Pantano in an ill-handling car the next driver through. Speed was unable to attempt a pass, and followed Pantano across the line with Rosberg on his tail. Garcia ran a lonely race to finish in fifth, ahead of Kovalainen, who kept his teammate at bay to take the final point of the race.

CLASSIFIED:

Pos  Driver      Team                      Time
 1.  Pla         DPR                       39:54.758
 2.  Pantano     Super Nova International  +   6.940
 3.  Speed       iSport International      +   7.388
 4.  Rosberg     ART Grand Prix            +   7.612
 5.  Garcia      Racing Engineering        +  16.553
 6.  Kovalainen  Arden International       +  17.739
 7.  Lapierre    Arden International       +  18.371
 8.  Piquet Jr.  Hitech Piquet Sports      +  20.040
 9.  Premat      ART Grand Prix            +  20.790
10.  Lopez       DAMS                      +  21.698
11.  Carroll     Super Nova International  +  23.653
12.  Viso        BCN Competicion           +  27.864
13.  Sharp       DPR                       +  33.974
14.  Bruni       Coloni Motorsport         +  36.961
15.  Monfardini  Durango                   +  37.493
16.  Fauzy       DAMS                      +  46.978
17.  Piccione    Durango                   +  47.936
18.  Negrao      Hitech Piquet Sports      +  51.382
19.  Hernandez   Campos Racing             +  65.469
20.  Artam       iSport International      +  65.804
21.  Lauda       Coloni Motorsport         +  68.534
22.  Jani        Racing Engineering        +  3 Laps

NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS:

     Driver      Team                   On Lap
     Yoshimoto   BCN Competicion          21
     Alvarez     Campos Racing            17

Fastest Lap: Rosberg, 1:27.245 on lap 24

2005 Championship Standings, Round 7 (Race 13)

Drivers:               Teams:
 1.  Kovalainen  69     1.  ART Grand Prix            95
 2.  Rosberg     63     2.  Arden International       81
 3.  Speed       50     3.  Super Nova International  52
 4.  Carroll     34     =   iSport International      52
 5.  Bruni       33     5.  Coloni Motorsport         36
 6.  Premat      32     6.  Racing Engineering        29
 7.  Lopez       25     7.  DAMS                      25
 =   Jani        25     =   Hitech Piquet Sports      25
 9.  Piquet Jr.  24     9.  DPR                       18
10.  Pantano     18    10.  Durango                   13
11.  Pla         16    11.  BCN Competicion           10
12.  Piccione    12    12.  Campos Racing              3
 =   Lapierre    12
14.  Yoshimoto    8
15.  Garcia       4
16.  Hernandez    3
 =   Lauda        3
18.  Artam        2
 =   Viso         2
 =   Sharp        2
21.  Monfardini   1
 =   Negrao       1
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