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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