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vd Garde holds on in Hungary

26 July 2009

Giedo van der Garde soaked up race-long pressure from GP2 Series veteran Luca Filippi to claim his first win of the season in Sunday morning's sprint race at the Hungaroring, showing a steely determination and turning around iSport's disappointing season in the best way possible.

The reigning World Series by Renault champion has struggled to make his mark in the F1 feeder series, despite iSport's pedigree, but held on to claim victory by half a second over the Italian, with Lucas di Grassi taking a second podium of the weekend in third place.

The victory was set up at the start, as Dutchman van der Garde stormed off the line when the lights went out, slicing past poleman Davide Rigon to take the lead, with Filippi slotting in behind him into turn one. Unfortunately for Rigon, his getaway was slow and Pastor Maldonado was all over him, the pair touching at turn nine. Rigon, having secured his and Trident's first point of the season on Saturday, was out on the spot, with his rival eventually returning to the track at the back of the field.

Javier Villa avoided the accident to slot into third position, with Italian Super Nova team-mate Filippi playing a waiting game and hoping that rookie race leader van der Garde would destroy his tyres and hand him an opportunity to claim top spot later in the race.

The Dutchman was not to be denied, however, and clung to his tiny lead despite everything - including a safety car - being thrown at him to record his maiden victory with Filippi still breathing his fumes as they cross the line. Having relied on his team-mate to protect him from the advances of title challengers di Grassi and Romain Grosjean, Filippi would have been concerned to see both pass the Spaniard as he ran wide late in the race, but still had a second in hand over his pursuers as he crossed the line.

A disappointed Villa had to make do with fifth place, just ahead of Alvaro Parente, who soaked up enormous pressure from points leader Nico H├╝lkenberg for the final scoring position. The German nevertheless maintains a strong advantage in the championship, with his 57 points still a dozen to the good despite Grosjean closing the gap slightly by moving up to 45 points.

That puts the Frenchman - still being touted as a possible replacement for Nelson Piquet Jr at Renault F1 - four points ahead of Barwa Addax team-mate Vitaly Petrov, who capped a disappointing weekend by spinning out of contention in race two. The Russian is now just one point ahead of di Grassi, whose two-podium haul provided another successful Hungaroring weekend for the Brazilian.


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