van der Garde sprints to Spa success
30 August 2009
Giedo van der Garde stormed to victory in the closest thing the Dutchman has to a home race, claiming a second GP2 Series win of the year after leading from lights to flag in Sunday morning's sprint event at the fabled Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
The iSport driver crowned the best day of the season for former champions iSport International, as Diego Nunes sandwiched Roldan Rodriguez to claim a 1-3 result for Paul Jackson's team, but the win was set up at the start when van der Garde blew past poleman Edoardo Mortara as the lights went out.
Claiming the inside line for turn one, the lead was never in doubt again, especially as, behind him, chaos reigned at La Source. The fast-starting Dani Clos appeared to misjudge his braking into the hairpin and, on the inside line, had little room to manoeuvre, clattering into points leader Nico Hülkenberg, and leaving Jérôme d'Ambrosio
and Luca Filippi nowhere to go but into the stricken pair.
Pastor Maldonado made a strong start to slot in behind van der Garde and Mortara, and was soon looking for a way past the Italian. Faster, but frustrated by his rival's defence, the Venezuelan tried his luck on the outside of Les Combes, but found the grass instead, spinning across the track and into the wall as he attempted to change his line on a surface still damp with morning dew. The errant ART machine forced Kamui Kobayashi to spin in avoidance, and prompted the first appearance of the safety car.
Race one winner Alvaro Parente was promoted to fourth as a result, but it wasn't to last, the Portuguese driver's race ending one lap later - still behind the pace car - as a cloud of smoke signalled an engine failure. Parente's exit pushed Nunes - recovering from a race one penalty that cost him points and four places on the grid - and Lucas di Grassi up one spot, before the latter easily disposed of his compatriot when the race went live.
The Racing Engineering driver then homed in on Mortara, but got a little too close and, one lap later, ran over the Italian's rear wheel into the Bus Stop, putting both drivers out on the spot and promoting Sergio Perez to fourth, ahead of Davides Valsecchi and Rigon.
For the remainder of the race, the battles to watch were for the minor points places, as van der Garde easily rolled to victory three seconds ahead of Rodriguez. Nunes, meanwhile, had to absorb race-long pressure from Perez to claim his podium finish, while, behind them, Rigon made a spectacular move on his namesake at the end of the main straight to claim a strong fifth position.
Championship contender Vitaly Petrov, having appeared to suffer as a by-product of Clos' misjudgement at turn one, finally found a way by Barwa Addax team-mate Valsecchi to claim sixth place and keep himself mathematically in the title hunt. The Russian goes to Monza 27 points behind ART's Hülkenberg with 40 points left to play for over the final two weekends of the season, at Monza and Portimao.