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Maldonado wins Spa sprint.

Pastor Maldonado used the outside move into Les Combes that he has been perfecting all weekend to claim victory in the GP2 Series sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Having been denied his usual run to glory at Monaco, the Venezuelan charged from sixth on the grid - having been handed a podium finish on Saturday - pulling off a series of passing moves on the long drag from the top of Eau Rouge to the chicane, before stalking long-time leader Jerome d'Ambrosio at the same spot to deny the local favourite a win at his home track.

d'Ambrosio had led from pole, surviving an initially damp track to pull away in company with Andy Soucek, before the rain returned at the end to catch more than a few drivers out.

Among them was Bruno Senna, who failed to capitalise on title rival Giorgio Pantano's exclusion after clipping the rear of Sebastien Buemi's car and damaging his right front suspension.

As had been the case on Saturday, the GP2 race was preceded by rain but, this time, the track was dry enough for the field to start on slicks, although certain sections of the longest track on the calendar remained damp offline. d'Ambrosio made the best of the cautious starts, and led Soucek - who took advantage of Mike Conway's wariness - into La Source. Most of the frontrunners filed through roughly where they had started, although Conway was down to ninth, before Karun Chandhok found himself being turned around by Sakon Yamamoto, the ART driver becoming the race's first retirement as the result of his indiscretion.

Soucek's pursuit of d'Ambrosio saw him misjudge the grip levels at Les Combes, the Spaniard running deep down the escape road before finding another piece of tarmac that led back to the track just before Malmedy and rejoining without losing a place. As a result, d'Ambrosio led the Super Nova car, Buemi, Vitaly Petrov, Alvaro Parente and Maldonado across the line at the end of an eventful opening lap that culminated with both Andi Zuber and Marko Asmer pitting.

Maldonado was not hanging about, however, and passed Parente for fifth on lap two, as feature race winner Romain Grosjean jumped Kamui Kobayashi for seventh. Senna, meanwhile, was keen to make up as much ground from his eleventh place start as possible, and began his climb by disposing of Luca Filippi at the Bus Stop second time around. The Brazilian had company, however, for the third contender, Lucas di Grassi, having made one of the better getaways, was dogging his every move, dispensing with Filippi and La Source on lap three to keep tabs on his fellow countryman.

Maldonado came close to claiming another scalp approaching Les Combes on the third lap, but could just as easily ended his own hopes as he hit the back of Petrov approaching the braking area. Both had already cleared Buemi and, fortunately, given the speed and proximity of the barriers at that point, escaped to fight on, although the Piquet Sports car exhibited a pair of flat-spots on his front tyres as war wounds.

The Venezuelan finally got his man next time around, again racing up the outside of the Campos car approaching Les Combes, while Parente followed suit to dump Buemi another place further back. Senna was now battling for ninth, with di Grassi all over the back of the iSport car, but the pair were elevated another place closer to the all-important points when Conway looped his Trident machine out of the final chicane and into the barriers opposite the pits.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Pastor Maldonado - Piquet Sports   [pic credit: GP2 Series]
Gustav Malja F2 2017
Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, F2, Formula 2, Bahrain
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Artem Markelov, F2, Bahrain
Artem Markelov
Norman Nato, Bahrain F2 2017, Formula 2
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, Formula 2, 2017
Nabil Jeffri, Team Trident [Credit: Team Trident]
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix [GP2 Series]
Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing

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