Kovalainen Wins Race 1

Heikki Kovalainen extended his GP2 championship lead, after winning the first race at the Nurburgring with the help of a clever race strategy

Kovalainen, who start from 17th on the grid, made an early pitstop to pop out ahead of pole sitter Giorgio Pantano and fellow early stopper Nico Rosberg, leading the race thereafter to the chequered flag.

With temperatures soaring inside and out of the car, a number of drivers had problems getting away on the formation lap. Hiroki Yoshimoto was left behind on the first formation lap, while Ernesto Viso and Nicolas Lapierre stalled on the second formation lap, and finally Scott Speed and Ryan Sharp stopped on the grid at the next attempt.

With the cars all removed to the pitlane, the race finally started, prompting mayhem at the first corner - Pantano and Gianmaria Bruni led Neel Jani and Jose Maria Lopez through safely, but further back Borja Garcia ran fast up the inside and was far too late on the brakes, hitting Adam Carroll and starting the carnage.

Xandi Negrao was next on the scene, touching Olivier Pla and causing both drivers to find the stranded Carroll, prompting a roadblock for Ferdinando Monfardini who finished his race on top of Negrao's car. With five cars stopped at turn one, a safety car was deployed.

At the restart, Pantano was able to easily lead Bruni across the line, with Mathias Lauda and Speed making an early pitstop, following in Kovalainen's earlier footsteps. The fast charging Clivio Piccione, who was up to sixth after the first corner from 14th, went one better to take Nelson Piquet's fifth place.

Nico Rosberg, who had stalled at the start of the race, took the opportunity to come in one lap later and get some clear track in front of him, while at the front Bruni was pushing Pantano hard, and Piccione and Lopez drove past Jani at turn three for third and fourth on the road respectively.

On lap eight, Pantano was in to change tyres - the first of the leaders to stop, handing Bruni the opportunity to push hard in front while Piccione pulled out all the stops to try and catch him.

Bruni was in five laps later, coming out eighth and just in front of a quick Rosberg, while Piccione and Lopez, who had also come in, were a lot slower to return to the track. Bruni's car, however, was not handling well - he spun shortly afterwards, and never quite regained form after his return to the track.

With everyone having stopped by lap 17, the order at the front was Kovalainen, Pantano, Rosberg, Jani, Bruni, Lopez, Alex Premat and Piquet.

Bruni, however, was dropping backwards, his car clearly ill-handling, and Lopez made short work of overtaking him, while Pantano was pushing hard to make up the gap to Kovalainen at the front.

Premat was on a charge after his stop - he took Bruni on lap 23, followed Piquet past Lopez five laps later, overtook Jani on lap 30 and then finally claimed Piquet's scalp two laps later.

Pantano's pressure was not enough - he couldn't find a way by Kovalainen despite piling on the pressure, and in the closing stages he backed off.

GP2 Series Round 4 (Race 6) at the Nurburgring - Results:


Pos  Driver      Team                      Time
 1.  Kovalainen  Arden International       1h01:43.066
 2.  Pantano     Super Nova International  +     1.832
 3.  Rosberg     ART Grand Prix            +    24.953
 4.  Premat      ART Grand Prix            +    40.520
 5.  Piquet Jr.  Hitech Piquet Sports      +    41.160
 6.  Jani        Racing Engineering        +    49.037
 7.  Piccione    Durango                   +    49.138
 8.  Bruni       Coloni Motorsport         +    54.299
 9.  Sharp       DPR                       +  1:07.919
10.  Lauda       Coloni Motorsport         +  1:08.692
11.  Yoshimoto   BCN Competicion           +  1:17.472
12.  Lapierre    Arden International       +  1:19.997
13.  Lopez       DAMS                      +  1:20.750
14.  Fauzy       DAMS                      +  1:25.504
15.  Hernandez   Campos Racing             +  1:32.110
16.  Speed       iSport International      +    1 Lap
17.  Artam       iSport International      +    1 Lap
18.  Alvarez     Campos Racing             +    3 Laps


     Drover      Team                     On Lap
     Viso        BCN Competicion            9
     Pla         DPR                        1
     Carroll     Super Nova International   1
     Garcia      Racing Engineering         1
     Monfardini  Durango                    1
     Negrao      Hitech Piquet Sports       1

Fastest Lap: Speed, iSport International, 1:44.992

Championship Standings, Round 4:

Drivers' Championship     Teams' Championship
 1.  Kovalainen    38     1.  Arden International      42
 2.  Bruni         27     2.  Super Nova International 33
 3.  Speed         25     3.  ART Grand Prix           30
 4.  Carroll       23     =   Coloni Motorsport        30
 5.  Rosberg       18     5.  iSport International     27
 6.  Lopez         17     6.  DAMS                     17
 7.  Piquet Jr.    14     7.  Hitech Piquet Sports     15
 8.  Jani          13     8.  Racing Engineering       13
 9.  Premat        12     9.  DPR                       4
10.  Pantano       10    10.  BCN Competicion           2
11.  Lapierre       4     =   Durango                   2
12.  Pla            2    12.  Campos Racing             1
 =   Viso           2
 =   Piccione       2
15.  Negaro         1

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