Leimer dominates Barcelona sprint
9 May 2010
Fabio Leimer stormed to victory in the GP2 Series sprint race at the Circuit de Catalunya, taking advantage of his pole position to dominate in a lights-to-flag display which saw him easily control the pace throughout.
Having held on to finish eighth in Saturday's feature event, the Swiss driver was never headed as he converted top spot on the partly-reversed grid to finish ahead of Rapax duo Luiz Razia and Pastor Maldonado.
The race start was delayed after Sergio Perez's bad luck continued with a terminal engine problem on the warm-up lap, leaving the marshals to clear up oil left behind by the smoking Barwa Addax car as its Mexican pilot completed more than half a lap spewing smoke behind him. Leimer, however, was unfazed by the delay and, when the lights went out, the Ocean Racing Technology driver got away cleanly and was never challenged into the first corner.
Behind the Swiss youngster, there was a fierce battle between the Rapax team-mates all the way to turn one, which kept the rest of the field behind them until Razia made his inside line count to claim second. Oliver Turvey slotted in between the pair, while Dani Clos, Saturday victor Charles Pic and a fast-starting Sam Bird - determined to get something for his weekend's toils - dropped in behind.
Bird, who saw third on the grid nullified by an enforced trip over the kerbs on lap one of the feature, didn't take long to get into the points. On the second lap, he lined up French rival Pic and dispatched him with ease at the final chicane for sixth place. However, with countryman Turvey looking slow ahead of him, there was clearly a lot more to play for, and Bird pushed Clos for lap after lap, especially at turn five, his favoured hunting ground from race one. On lap ten, the pressure paid off as Clos ran slightly wide and Bird was through, the ART man then going on to easily dispatch Turvey a lap later.
By that time, however, the gap to the top three was untouchable, as Leimer rolled out fastest lap after fastest lap before easing up in the closing stages to claim a simple victory. Razia was allowed to close up a little in the last two laps, with Maldonado following his team-mate across the line, reversing their order from race one.
Bird pushed hard but the gap was too much, and a trip through the gravel warned the Briton to be happy with the points for fourth. Turvey, meanwhile, soaked up race-long pressure to hang on for fifth place, just ahead of Clos, Pic and Giacomo Ricci.
Leimer's win catapulted him up to second in the standings, which are still led by Pic on ten points. The bonus point for fastest lap puts Leimer equal with Ricci on eight points, one ahead of Razia, Clos and Maldonado as the championship heads to Monaco in just a few days time.