Kovalainen Fights Back to Win

Heikki Kovalainen has given his Championship ambitions a boost by taking a win in mixed weather conditions in race two at the Istanbul Park circuit, ahead of Adam Carroll and Championship rival Nico Rosberg

Kovalainen Fights Back to Win

The win came courtesy of a smart call to change tyres as the track was drying out after a burst of rain fell just prior to the start. Kovalainen was among the first to make the call, and the change proved decisive for his race.

Pole-sitter Hiroki Yoshimoto was left fuming after leading the race but being forced to stay out on wet tyres; as a result he finished tenth, and his hopes for a first win had evaporated along with the rain.

On the warm-up lap, Carroll stalled on the grid as the rest of the field sailed past - after yesterday's poor luck it was a bitter blow, and the Ulsterman was forced to take to the back of the field for the start.

Yoshimoto had a slow start as the lights went out, and third placed Jose Maria Lopez was into the lead at turn one by forcing the Japanese driver wide, but Lopez himself ran off track going up the hill, handing the lead to Scott Speed from fourth on the grid.

The wet track was proving difficult to handle - Xandi Negrao and Giorgio Pantano ran wide on the first lap, with Kovalainen also missing the corner and running off track on the second last bend after starting tenth on the grid.

Speed led Yoshimoto and Alex Premat at the end of lap one, with the Frenchman pushing hard to move up to second. But he pushed too hard - he spun off at turn eight, and lost a number of places before finding his way back onto the track.

Yoshimoto was determined to get back what he felt was rightfully his, setting a string of fastest laps as he tried to get onto the tail of Speed, with teammate Ernesto Viso also fast and fighting his way through the grid.

With the weather affecting their concentration there was overtaking galore all through the field, but by lap ten the order had calmed down, with Speed leading Yoshimoto, Viso, Rosberg, Lopez and Kovalainen, with Carroll up to an impressive seventh from last place.

One lap later, with the track drying out, the first of the pitstops came - Pantano, Neel Jani and Ferdinando Monfardini were the first men in for dry tyres, and Kovalainen came in one lap later as Viso set a new fastest lap from third.

Yoshimoto was all over the rear wing of Speed, and looked to have first position as he moved to make a pass while running up the hill before backing off. It was a smart move, as the waved yellow flags at the corner would have meant a certain penalty.

He got back onto Speed's tail and was clearly going to take the American's position until Speed dived into the pits on lap 14 - his team had seen the time advantage for the dry tyre-shod drivers, and wanted a piece of the action.

Yoshimoto and Viso were the only men on track not to change tyres by lap fifteen, and the pair had a 31.3 second lead over a clearly faster Kovalainen. The BCN team were hoping that the gap would be enough, but it was not to be.

The Finn took eight seconds out of their next lap, then another eight and eleven seconds in the following two tours, before the inevitable came on lap 18 - Kovalainen motored past Viso before the back straight, and into the lead just one lap later.

The BCN pair were dropping like stones - with wet weather tyres on a now completely dry track they had nowhere to hide, and the field powered by them eagerly.

At the front of the pack Kovalainen was leading commandingly from Carroll, who was back up to his initial grid position of second from last at the start of the race. Rosberg was the next man through, followed by Speed, who was annoyed at being brought in so late.

With most of the front runners swapping fastest laps the order was to remain the same, with Kovalainen taking an ultimately simple win after 23 laps of the impressive Istanbul circuit.

Behind Carroll, Rosberg and Speed the final points positions were filled by Borja Garcia and Nelson Piquet, with Olivier Pla setting the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, before spinning off track after crossing the line, to claim his two points.

CLASSIFIED: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Kovalainen Arden International 43:48.581 2. Carroll Super Nova International + 7.985 3. Rosberg ART Grand Prix + 8.556 4. Speed iSport International + 9.328 5. Garcia Racing Engineering + 11.341 6. Piquet Jr. Hitech Piquet Sports + 18.360 7. Lopez DAMS + 21.618 8. Pantano Super Nova International + 24.032 9. Bruni Coloni Motorsport + 25.718 10. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion + 34.197 11. Piccione Durango + 39.720 12. Viso BCN Competicion + 39.750 13. Lapierre Arden International + 40.095 14. Premat ART Grand Prix + 63.412 15. Artam iSport International + 63.799 16. Pla DPR + 65.662 17. Fauzy DAMS + 77.374 18. Lauda Coloni Motorsport + 1 Lap 19. Negrao Hitech Piquet Sports + 1 Lap 20. Hernandez Campos Racing + 3 Laps NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS: Driver Team On Lap Monfardini Durango 18 Jani Racing Engineering 14 Alvarez Campos Racing 10 Mondini DPR 2 Fastest Lap: Olivier Pla, 1:41.209 on lap 23 2005 Championship Standings, Round 9 (race 17): Drivers: Teams: 1. Kovalainen 85 1. ART Grand Prix 131 2. Rosberg 78 2. Arden International 98 3. Speed 59 3. Super Nova International 77 4. Premat 53 4. iSport International 61 5. Carroll 41 5. Racing Engineering 52 6. Jani 40 6. Coloni Motorsport 36 7. Pantano 36 7. Hitech Piquet Sports 32 8. Bruni 33 8. DAMS 28 9. Piquet Jr. 30 9. DPR 22 10. Lopez 28 10. BCN Competicion 16 11. Pla 20 11. Durango 15 12. Piccione 14 12. Campos Racing 3 13. Lapierre 13 14. Garcia 12 15. Yoshimoto 11 16. Viso 5 17. Hernandez 3 = Lauda 3 19. Artam 2 = Negrao 2 = Sharp 2 22. Monfardini 1 
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