Bruni Wins Commandingly in Spain

Gianmaria Bruni took a commanding win today in the first GP2 race at Barcelona, leading the race all the way to the end after beating polesitter Scott Speed into the first corner at the start

Bruni Wins Commandingly in Spain

Speed jinked to his right as the lights went out to cover Bruni, but the Italian was already moving by him, with Jose Maria Lopez on tow, to claim the top spot at turn one. Just behind them, Nelson Piquet Jr went left to find a way by Speed but was unable to make the move stick.

Back on the grid Olivier Pla was very slow to pull away, almost stalling his engine before finally getting off the line after everyone had already left, led by Bruni from Lopez, Speed, a fast starting Ryan Sharp and Piquet.

Ferdinando Monfardini spun at the last corner of the first lap, followed shortly by Borja Garcia who lost control of his car under braking.

One lap later Heikki Kovalainen, clearly looking for some breathing space after two laps in the middle of traffic, came in strategically for the first pitstop of the race, while Nico Rosberg forced his way past a troubled looking Giorgio Pantano.

One of the fastest men on track in the early laps was Ernesto Viso who in just a few short laps had muscled his car up from twentieth on the grid to twelfth position.

Clivio Piccione was soon to join the retirees, spinning twice before running across the gravel just before Juan Cruz Alvarez hit the wall heavily, eventually emerging dazed with the help of the marshalls, who walked him back to the paddock.

Back at the front Bruni was building a solid lead, 2.5 seconds ahead of Lopez who was unable to do anything about the Italian, but had his own buffer of 3.4 seconds over Speed. Immediately behind them a battle was raging for fourth, with Piquet running on the tail of a strong looking Sharp.

Kovalainen meanwhile was catching and dispatching positions with ease, running just outside of the top ten and looking for more. Ahead of him a quick looking Nico Rosberg was all over Adam Carroll in seventh position, but the fast, flowing nature of the track was not giving him any way by the Super Nova driver.

Coloni, obviously with one eye on the stop watch, brought Mathias Lauda in for his pitstop and managed to slot him back out just in front of Bruni, who was soon by and sailing away.

By this stage Speed was on Lopez's tail and looking for a way by but was unable to get just close enough to make a move. The pair were charging fast and soon caught up with Lauda, which must have had them thinking they had caught Bruni - unfortunately for the pair he was now seven seconds up the road and flying away.

The unfortunate Viso's tough weekend continued when he slowed in tenth position, ceding the place to Kovalainen before pulling over by the side of the road with car trouble and quashing a promising looking drive towards the points.

With eighteen laps to go the pitstops started in earnest - Pantano was in but he lost his engine for some time before finally getting restarted and limping back on track. Lopez was shortly in from second, running out again in ninth place and waiting to see what the other front runners would do.

Carroll was now on the tail of Nicolas Lapierre, who had quietly found his way to fifth position - the pair came in together but left apart, Carroll easily ahead after a slow stop for the Frenchman. Both ART drivers were in immediately afterwards, with Alexandre Premat out just ahead of Rosberg, who nonetheless started to run a series of fastest laps.

One lap later the big one came - Bruni was into the pits with a commanding lead and needing just a clean stop to assure him of victory. It wasn't to be - the Italian was unduly delayed by a slow jack man - but was nonetheless out in fifth with a clear track in front of him.

Speed was now in front and making the most of it, pulling away from Sharp and Piquet, who now had teammate Xandi Negrao between him and a charging Bruni. Piquet was clearly frustrated at being held up behind Sharp, but the nature of the circuit was against him and Sharp was having the drive of his life.

Behind Bruni Lopez was slowing, clearly having trouble with an errant car. Kovalainen made light work of taking sixth position two laps before Lopez spun into the gravel, just managing to bring the car back on to the track and heading up the road again.

With ten laps remaining Rosberg was again the fastest man on track, but points paying positions were beyond him. Ahead of the German Carroll was in ninth place but struggling to keep a charging Pla behind him.

The Frenchman finally found a way by, sliding up the inside of Carroll but shortly undoing all of his good work by spinning off track in a huge cloud of dust to end his race against the wall.

The order at the front was now Speed, Piquet, Negrao, Bruni and Sharp as the final stops came into play - Piquet was first, followed a lap later by Speed, who came out third and close behind Bruni, who reclaimed the lead as Negrao came into the pits.

With six laps to go the fight for the lead was now on. After the stops Bruni was just 1.95 seconds ahead of Speed, who was determined to find a way by and pushed hard.

As the laps rolled by the gap dropped and dropped - 1.2 seconds, 0.8, 0.7 - and the question being asked was whether Bruni hold off Speed for the remaining three laps.

Behind them the other positions had shaken out - Kovalainen's early stop strategy had worked out well and the Finn was up to third, ahead of an impressive Neel Jani who had also popped out ahead of the previously front running bunch of Piquet, Lopez, Carroll and Negrao.

As every Italian in the pitlane held his breath, Bruni held his nerve, running just fast enough in the final laps to hold on and take his first win since Donington in 2003, finishing just over a second ahead of Speed and prompting tears of joy from team boss Paolo Coloni in the pitlane.

CLASSIFIED:

Pos  Driver      Team                      Time
 1.  Bruni       Coloni Motorsport         58:07.348
 2.  Speed       iSport International      +   1.203
 3.  Kovalainen  Arden International       +   7.789
 4.  Jani        Racing Engineering        +  18.165
 5.  Piquet Jr.  Hitech Piquet Sports      +  23.594
 6.  Lopez       DAMS                      +  25.992
 7.  Carroll     Super Nova International  +  33.740
 8.  Negrao      Hitech Piquet Sports      +  36.881
 9.  Rosberg     ART Grand Prix            +  37.197
10.  Premat      ART Grand Prix            +  46.868
11.  Lapierre    Arden International       +  66.152
12.  Fauzy       DAMS                      +  89.143
13.  Pantano     Super Nova International  +   1 Lap

NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS:

     Driver      Team                  On Lap
     Piccione    Durango                35
     Sharp       DPR                    31
     Pla         DPR                    30
     Lauda       Coloni Motorsport      29
     Artam       iSport International   27
     Yoshimoto   BCN Competicion        20
     Viso        BCN Competicion        19
     Hernandez   Campos Racing          14
     Alvarez     Campos Racing           5
     Garcia      Racing Engineering      2
     Monfardini  Durango                 2

Fastest Lap: Rosberg, 1:25.875 (lap 38)

Championship Standings, Round 2, Race 1:

Drivers' Championship     Constructors' Championship
 1.  Kovalainen    20     1.  Arden International      24
 2.  Bruni         18     2.  Coloni Motorsport        18
 3.  Speed         16     3.  iSport International     16
 4.  Carroll       12     4.  Super Nova International 12
 5.  Lopez         11     5.  DAMS                     11
 6.  Jani           8     6.  ART Grand Prix           10
 7.  Premat         7     7.  Racing Engineering        8
 8.  Piquet Jr.     5     8.  Hitech Piquet Sports      6
 9.  Lapierre       4     9.  DPR                       2
10.  Rosberg        3     =   BCN Competicion           2
11.  Pla            2
12.  Viso           2
13.  Negaro         1
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