5 April 2009
Petrov takes Sepang sprint win.
Vitaly Petrov put his experience and skills to good use on a wet and slippery track to claim victory in the second event of the GP2 Asia Series weekend at Sepang.
Rain started to fall heavily on the grid before the formation lap, and the race was delayed for thirty minutes before the start was eventually allowed behind the safety car on a soaked track. The field trailed around at reduced pace for four laps before being released, and polesitter Davide Valsecchi has a tough time keeping Pastor Maldonado behind him even before crossing the line, the Venezuelan making contact with the rear of the Durango car as they shaped up to join the main straight.
Although Valsecchi survived the premature attention, he could not resist forever, and eventually ceded the lead at turn two on lap five, and then saw Petrov go through almost immediately, the Russian looking the more sure-footed in the conditions. Five laps later, the Barwa racer started to put huge pressure on Maldonado, keeping the ART man on his mettle until finally passing him in a strong move at the last turn.
With the track gradually drying, Petrov was never to be caught, pulling away to the chequered flag and eventually winning by nearly three seconds, as Valsecchi began to put pressure back on Maldonado for second. The Venezuelan was equal to the task, however, curbing his usual exuberant tendencies as he attempted to preserve his deteriorating rubber and keeping the Italian title contender at bay.
Saturday race winner Diego Nunes came through from eighth on the reversed grid to score another three points for fourth place, finishing ahead of surprise package Hamad Al Fardan. The Bahraini rookie had come close to opening his GP2 account for GFH Team iSport in Saturday's feature, only for an exhaust problem to drop him to ninth, but maintained his momentum to claim fifth place, ahead of Sergio Perez.
The Mexican had retired from Saturday's feature and started only 22nd as a result, but showed why he was able to take F3 victories in the wet at Monza in 2008 but climbing through the field until he caught up with championship leader Kamui Kobayashi. The DAMS driver had started from seventh on the grid, but a poor start saw him
drop to eleventh before he embarked on his own recovery.
The Japanese ace had made it back to sixth by the last lap thanks, but had not counted on Perez's determination to claim the final point, the Mexican out-dragging Kobayashi out of the very last corner to steal the place at the line.
There was to be no repeat visit to the podium for Super Nova's James jakes, who spun out almost as soon as the safety car had withdrawn, while Jerome' d'Ambrosio completed the six retirements while visiting the pits to serve a penalty for going off a little to close to course workers for comfort.
Kobayashi remains thirteen points ahead of Valsecchi in the overall standings, with 20 on offer at the final round, in Bahrain, in three weeks' time. Petrov's win vaulted him back into third overall, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Roldan Rodriguez.
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