Ferrari star Felipe Massa
third driver Lucas di Grassi
led the way as the former's team won the 2009 edition of the increasingly prestigious Granja Viana 500 kart race in Brazil on Saturday.
The victory, at the Autodromo Granja Viana near São Paulo, was Massa's second karting success in as many weeks after taking victory in his own International Challenge of Champions event. Both races have featured as steps on the Brazilian's return to fitness following the head injuries he suffered in a freak accident during qualifying for the Hungarian GP in July.
"I spent a huge amount of time in front of my TV set, just watching F1 and dreaming about the moment to come back," Massa admitted after taking to the podium, "This has been a nice recovery, with my victory in the second heat of the International Challenge of Go-Kart Champions last week in Florianopolis and now with this result at Granja Viana, an ever-challenging long and tough competition."
The pairing of Massa and di Grassi - who hopes to graduate to F1 next season after a long apprenticeship in GP2 - was joined by Stock Car Light frontrunner Julio Campos, who lined up along with Massa on his maiden Granja Viana victory in the event back in 1997.
After almost eleven hours of action, Massa crossed the start-finish line waving his arms as if he was rocking his first son Felipinho, who was born last Monday in São Paulo.
"I think we got what we deserved, as we took the lead right from the start," the 2008 F1 world championship runner-up commented, "We managed to set up a strong team, whose pace all over the race was quite similar. I have to thank our team manager Renato Marlia, who gave us a perfect kart, and my mates di Grassi and Campos. They did very well, saving the equipment and not putting a wheel wrong during the entire race."
Massa's team cruised to a relatively easy victory after leading from lights to flag, helped by polesitter Bruno Junqueira losing time at the Le Mans-style start. The IndyCar driver was passed by Massa before the first turn and although the Ferrari
star dropped to third in the early stages, he was soon was able to regain first position, with the team holding station until the end of the race, helped by great reliability, and only conceding the place during its mandatory 15-minute pit-stop.
Massa admitted that dedicating the victory to his infant son had been a spontaneous decision as he crossed the line.
"I did not plan to do anything for him with much advance, because these things usually don't work as you imagine," he explained, "Towards the end of the race, however, I started thinking on how to show my love for him. This victory is totally dedicated to my little son."
Former BAR and Toyota
driver Ricardo Zonta led the Techspeed squad to second spot, beating Rubens Barrichello's 'superteam' by less than ten seconds.