Valsecchi hangs on for final victory of 2010
14 November 2010
Davide Valsecchi returned to the scene of his success in last winter's GP2 Asia Series to claim victory in the final race of the main 2010 campaign for iSport International.
The Italian, starting from fourth on the grid, jumped his rivals as the lights went out over the Yas Marina circuit to take the lead after the first corner of the sprint race, before leading all the way to the chequered flag. Remarkably, it was Valsecchi's first win of the regular season, but he showed the same sort of resilience as he used in the Asia Series to absorb race-long pressure from Luiz Razia and Romain Grosjean.
Poleman Josef Kral was slightly delayed off the line, handing fellow front row starter Razia a clear line to turn one. The Brazilian, however, went in too deep, allowing Valsecchi and Grosjean to run side-by-side out of the corner. Razia then chopped back on track, leaving the Frenchman with nowhere to go, and he dropped back to third to avoid being squeezed on either side.
Behind the top three, Sam Bird had made his customary sharp getaway, but was quickly jumped by Dani Clos, with a fierce battle for P4 commencing between the pair ahead of Kral, Sergio Perez and Oliver Turvey. The Mexican, who won race one in Abu Dhabi, was soon by the poleman and looking for more, making it a three-way fight for fourth place.
The battle, however, was extinguished almost as quickly as it began as, two laps later, Perez dived inside at a gap which wasn't really there, colliding with Bird and putting the pair out of the race almost instantly. When Barwa Addax team-mate Giedo van der Garde picked up new fewer than three drive-thru' penalties, the Addax pitwall realised that their chances of reclaiming up the team's championship were over for the year.
Back on track, there were plenty of scraps, but little in the way of overtaking. Razia pushed hard as he tried to save the Rapax team's championship chances - and help his own - and applied constant pressure to Valsecchi as the Italian looked to bring home the win iSport was denied on Saturday. At the flag, the Italian held on for victory by less than a second from Razia, with Grosjean holding off a late charge from Clos. Kral, continuing his return from back injuries sustained in Valencia, claimed a few more points for fifth, with the second iSport car of Turvey just hanging on to the final point against a spirited challenge from Brendon Hartley.
While new champion Pastor Maldonado again failed to score, his lead was enough to have secured the title last time out at Monza, and Perez did enough to claim the runners-up mantle in race one. Clos' brace of fourth places was not enough to prevent Jules Bianchi hanging on for third place. In the team's standings Razia's podium guaranteed Rapax its first crown, after pushing past Barwa Addax, as ART Grand Prix took third place.