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Silverstone: Lancaster makes it a British double with maiden win

30 June 2013

After Sam Bird had delivered a British win in the Saturday feature race at Silverstone, it might have been hoping for too much for a second home winner on Sunday in GP2 as well. But that's just what we got, courtesy of Hilmer Motorsport's Jon Lancaster.

Overnight grid penalties had removed Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer from the equation, but his team mate Julian Leal had been allowed to keep pole position under the reverse grid rules and the 23-year-old Colombian duly led the field round on the formation lap alongside Barwa Addax man Rio Haryanto, both of them with high hopes of converting their front row positions to victory in the sprint race.

However there were poor starts for the two front row men when the lights went out, which allowed Jon Lancaster to dive down the inside of both and blast his way into a clear lead into turn 1. Rio Haryanto gathered himself to maintain second spot, just holding off ART's James Calado who had put in a stunning start from eighth place on the grid to go into the first corner tucked in behind the Indonesian driver for third place.

That put all three out of range of the usual minor-level lap 1 incidents, which included Johnny Cecotto Jr. who sustained damage to the front wing of his Arden forcing him into an early pit stop for a replacement. The most serious of the first corner spats was triggered by Stephane Richelmi, who outbraked himself into turn 1 and ran into the right rear of Jolyon Palmer's car, spinning the Carlin off the track and dumping Palmer to the back of the field by the time he was able to resume. Richelmi himself needed to pit for repairs and ended up running at the back of the lead lap.

A brief safety car on lap 3 for a gearbox-related spin by ART's Daniel Abt on the way into Abbey closed up the field once again, with Lancaster able to control the restart to maintain the race lead ahead of Haryanto, Calado, Leal and Saturday feature star Tom Dillmann running fifth in the Russian Time car.

The safety car did help Palmer get back into contention, the Briton quickly barging his way through the minor placings on a mission to prove a point even at the risk of contact with rivals such as Sergio Canamasas in the EQ8 Caterham Racing. Also flying was Palmer's team mate Felipe Nasr, who after starting from the rear following his early retirement on Saturday was back up into the top ten within eight laps of the start of the sprint outing.

As well as Abt, there were other early retirements in pit lane for Trident's Nathanael Berthon and for Hilmer Motorsport's Robin Frijns, with Johnny Cecotto Jr subsequently pulling over to the side of the track in the final sector on lap 9. Jake Rosenzweig's race was also effectively over when a tyre issue on the Barwa Addax left him limping around the 3.667-mile circuit back to pit lane for a replacement set, dropping him to the back of the field.

All the while, Lancaster was looking entirely comfortable at the front as he pulled 3.5 seconds clear of Haryanto who was more concerned about not getting jumped for second spot by Calado. The most entertaining battle at the mid-point of the 21-lap event was between Stefano Coletti (Rapax) and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (MP Motorsport), having defied convention by opting for the softer option tyres rather than the seemingly universal harder primes favoured by the rest of the field but getting little tangible reward for the strategic daring.

Palmer's recovery charge through the field came to an end on lap 13 when he attempted to lap Canamasas, who had needed an earlier pit stop for front wing damage after a previous spat. Canamasas wasn't inclined to make things easy for Palmer and the blue flags were noticeably absent as well, but finally Palmer stuck the nose of his car down the inside of a left-hander and hoped he could pull off the turn. His efforts were thwarted when Canamasas simply turned into the corner and made contact with the Carlin, leaving Palmer with broken steering that forced him to pull into the old Silverstone parc ferme to retire the battered and bruised car. Canamasas was handed a ten-second stop-go penalty for causing the incident, which given that he was already running at the back was no great sanction.

The final laps were enlivened by a spirited battle between drivers who had been carefully maintaining their tyres and those who were now struggling with tyre degradation. Nasr was able to get the jump on Marcus Ericsson for seventh spot, and then went on to lay siege on Tom Dillmann - but the Russian Time was able to hang on against a spirited last push from Nasr through Club on the final lap to keep sixth by a slender margin. Behind them, Ericsson regrouped and managed to hold on to the final points position ahead of Alexander Rossi.

There was no question about the winner: having taken the lead in the opening seconds of the race, Jon Lancaster had never again looked under threat. He even set the fastest lap of the race on his way to ultimately coming home six and a half seconds ahead of Haryanto, with Calado being forced to settle for third place ahead of Leal. Saturday's race winner Sam Bird was fifth for Russian Time ahead of his team mate Dillmann.

With championship leader Coletti once again finishing outside the points, the points standings have tightened up considerably after the Silverstone round of the 2013 GP2 Series season. The Monegasque still leads but now by just 22 points over Felipe Nasr, while Sam Bird has moved into third spot ahead of Fabio Leimer who is in fourth just ahead of two British drivers, James Calado and Jon Lancaster, following their podium finishes on Sunday.

The sixth round of the GP2 Series is next weekend at the Nurburgring, Germany.

See full sprint race results and full championship standings.


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