GP2 Spa: Red Bull junior Gasly storms clear in title race with win

Red Bull Formula 1 test driver Pierre Gasly stormed into a 23-point GP2 championship lead with his third victory of the 2016 season for Prema at Spa

GP2 Spa: Red Bull junior Gasly storms clear in title race with win

Gasly's main title rival Sergey Sirotkin could only make it through to ninth, as British duo Jordan King and Alex Lynn completed the podium.

Poleman Antonio Giovinazzi immediately lost his advantage with a wheelspinning getaway that dropped him to fifth, allowing Gusta Malja to jink past from his breakthrough third on the grid into an early lead.

Rapax driver Malja held the usual frontrunners at bay for the first four laps before Gasly drafted ahead approaching Les Combes.

Norman Nato claimed second from Malja next time round, and his Racing Engineering team-mate King jumped the Swede when both were part of the first group of pit visitors at the end of lap six of the 25.

That early stop helped King briefly get ahead of Gasly after the erstwhile leader came in on the following lap, though Gasly was able to repass him on the Kemmel Straight soon afterwards.

From there Gasly just had to make effective progress through those on the alternative strategy of starting on hard tyres and running long before changing to softs.

Sirotkin was initially foremost among them, having battled from his disappointing 13th on the grid to eighth with an assertive first lap.

But the ART driver was overtaken by fellow Russian Artem Markelov, who came out in one piece from an early three-abreast entry to Eau Rouge with Nicholas Latifi and Luca Ghiotto and then showed his customary strong pace on used tyres as he stormed away from Sirotkin and the others on their strategy.

Gasly was always going faster still as he came through the field, and was duly elevated back into first once the alternative tactic runners pitted.

King felt Gasly gained an unfair advantage through a virtual safety car period triggered by Nato's car slowing to a halt on the exit of the Bus Stop chicane, and was 11 seconds adrift at the flag.

DAMS driver Lynn charged through to his first Saturday podium of the year from eighth on the grid, at one point jinking between the yet-to-stop Daniel de Jong and Malja to gain two places in one move into Les Combes.

Markelov flew through from eighth to fifth on his fresh soft tyres at the end, but couldn't deprive Russian Time team-mate Raffaele Marciello of fourth - a result that keeps the Italian in the championship hunt.

Giovinazzi ended up sixth. Both he and Ghiotto got ahead of Malja late on as the early leader fell back to eighth and the consolation of reverse grid pole.

After his pitstop, Sirotkin became embroiled in a spectacular fight with Oliver Rowland that began with a wheel-banging pass from the MP driver through Les Combes.

They then swapped places another four times while trying to overcome Sergio Canamasas in the closing laps.

That battle came to a head as they arrived at the Bus Stop for the last time, multiple contact between Canamasas and a furious Rowland sending the Briton into a half-spin in which he clipped the passing Sirotkin.

Sirotkin took the flag in ninth, with Rowland squeezing over the line ahead of Nobuharu Matsushita and the recovering Canamasas in 10th despite a mangled front wing.

FEATURE RACE RESULT

Pos Driver Team Laps Gap
1 Pierre Gasly Prema Racing 25 53m00.853s
2 Jordan King Racing Engineering 25 11.262s
3 Alex Lynn DAMS 25 15.519s
4 Raffaele Marciello RUSSIAN TIME 25 19.163s
5 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 25 20.723s
6 Antonio Giovinazzi Prema Racing 25 24.616s
7 Luca Ghiotto Trident 25 28.703s
8 Gustav Malja Rapax 25 32.404s
9 Sergey Sirotkin ART Grand Prix 25 35.778s
10 Oliver Rowland MP Motorsport 25 36.489s
11 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 25 36.620s
12 Sergio Canamasas Carlin 25 36.819s
13 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 25 41.909s
14 Arthur Pic Rapax 25 46.297s
15 Jimmy Eriksson Arden International 25 47.842s
16 Mitch Evans Pertamina Campos Racing 25 51.263s
17 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 25 59.821s
18 Sean Gelael Pertamina Campos Racing 25 1m10.120s
19 Nabil Jeffri Arden International 25 1m11.915s
20 Philo Paz Armand Trident 25 1m35.380s
- Norman Nato Racing Engineering 18 Retirement
- Marvin Kirchhofer Carlin 1 Retirement

SPRINT RACE STARTING GRID

Pos Driver Team
1 Gustav Malja Rapax
2 Luca Ghiotto Trident
3 Antonio Giovinazzi Prema Racing
4 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME
5 Raffaele Marciello RUSSIAN TIME
6 Alex Lynn DAMS
7 Jordan King Racing Engineering
8 Pierre Gasly Prema Racing
9 Sergey Sirotkin ART Grand Prix
10 Oliver Rowland MP Motorsport
11 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix
12 Sergio Canamasas Carlin
13 Nicholas Latifi DAMS
14 Arthur Pic Rapax
15 Jimmy Eriksson Arden International
16 Mitch Evans Pertamina Campos Racing
17 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport
18 Sean Gelael Pertamina Campos Racing
19 Nabil Jeffri Arden International
20 Philo Paz Armand Trident
21 Norman Nato Racing Engineering
22 Marvin Kirchhofer Carlin

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