Jani Takes Close Win in Race 2

Neel Jani held his nerve to take a nail-biting win in race two at Monza, crossing the line just four tenths of a second ahead of Nico Rosberg, with Giorgio Pantano finishing just behind the pair

Jani Takes Close Win in Race 2

The victory was one of the closest yet in GP2, and the Swiss driver was lucky that the race finished when it did - Rosberg was climbing all over his tail on the last lap and looked certain to take the top spot if it had run for even one more lap.

The race got off to an unusual start when the drivers were waiting for the lights to go out and were greeted instead with flashing red lights - an overnight rain storm had damaged the track's equipment, and the lights became usable.

Instead, the pack circulated once more and then took a rolling start behind the Safety Car. Pole sitter Ferdinando Monfardini was unable to hold back fellow front row starter Jani and the Swiss driver was through before the first chicane.

Behind the pair Rosberg was pushing Nelson Piquet Jr hard for sixth place, powering past the Brazilian into the Parabolica on the first lap, and then getting by Nicolas Lapierre just two corners later.

Fellow Championship contender Kovalainen was having a torrid time trying to keep up - an attempt to push by Piquet at the second chicane failed, and the Finn was flying through the gravel and looking for a way back on track.

At the front of the pack Jani put in the fastest lap of the race to build a gap over Monfardini, who was already heading a queue of drivers looking to get past, namely Pantano, Adam Carroll and a flying Rosberg.

Kovalainen, now safely back on track, ran by teammate Lapierre on lap four, but seemed to be struggling for pace and handling on his car. Two laps later he was back down to ninth position after a small mistake, and he had all of his work to do once more.

Meanwhile Piquet was battling with Hiroki Yoshimoto, who was determined to bring home some points after his disappointment in Turkey. Yoshimoto looked to have the better of the Brazilian, but Piquet knocked into the side of his car at the second chicane, putting himself out of the race and the Japanese driver into the pits.

It was the start of a period of mayhem all over the track - Ernesto Viso spun off, as did Jose Maria Lopez while trying to overtake Toni Vilander in the first chicane, while Lapierre had a big hit when he found the barriers at the back of the circuit.

Up at the front Jani had almost a two second lead over Monfardini, who was soaking up the pressure from Pantano and Rosberg, while a queue was forming behind Carroll comprised of Clivio Piccione, Juan Cruz Alvarez and Kovalainen.

Kovalainen forced his way past Alvarez for seventh place, which turned into sixth when Piccione was handed a drive through penalty for having his mechanics on the grid for too long at the start, and the Finn was suddenly looking for a way past the Ulsterman for fifth place.

On lap fourteen Pantano had finally tired of his view of Monfardini's rear wing and tried to muscle his way through at the first chicane. He left his braking far too late, however, and was forced to run straight, handing third place to Rosberg.

Two laps later and Rosberg showed Pantano, now behind him, how it should be done - he easily outbraked Monfardini at the second chicane and was off in pursuit of the leader. Behind them Kovalainen also passed Carroll, and was pushing hard for more points.

With three laps to go Rosberg was three seconds behind Jani, and the hunt was on. The German was easily able to run more than a second a lap faster than the Swiss driver, leading to a dramatic final lap where Rosberg was looking for a way past at every turn.

But time had run out - Jani was just able to hold on for victory ahead of Rosberg, with Pantano third after finally finding a way past Monfardini. Kovalainen crossed the line just one tenth of a second behind the Italian, with Carroll following well behind for sixth place and one point.

Rosberg, Kovalainen and Scott Speed had a secondary battle over the final three laps, with each of the three looking for the two points for fastest lap - Speed finally claimed them, and Kovalainen's lead in the Championship was shrunk to just six points over Rosberg, with just four races remaining.

CLASSIFIED:

Pos  Driver      Team                      Time
 1.  Jani        Racing Engineering        33:54.148
 2.  Rosberg     ART Grand Prix            +   0.488
 3.  Pantano     Super Nova International  +   2.416
 4.  Monfardini  Durango                   +   6.162
 5.  Kovalainen  Arden International       +   6.207
 6.  Carroll     Super Nova International  +  11.210
 7.  Hernandez   Campos Racing             +  15.062
 8.  Vilander    Coloni Motorsport         +  27.050
 9.  Artam       iSport International      +  30.031
10.  Garcia      Racing Engineering        +  34.518
11.  Fauzy       DAMS                      +  38.846
12.  Lauda       Coloni Motorsport         +  40.056
13.  Negrao      Hitech Piquet Sports      +  40.657
14.  Piccione    Durango                   +  40.902
15.  Speed       iSport International      +  81.370
16.  Yoshimoto   BCN Competicion           +  90.273
17.  Alvarez     Campos Racing             +  1 Lap
18.  Premat      ART Grand Prix            +  1 Lap

NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS:

     Driver      Team                   On Lap
     Mondini     DPR                      14
     Lapierre    Arden International       8
     Lopez       DAMS                      8
     Piquet Jr   Hitech Piquet Sports      6
     Viso        BCN Competicion           6
     Pla         DPR                       5
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