8 May 2011
Coletti wins sprint, Bird back on podium
Trident's Stefano Coletti claimed his maiden win in the first GP2 sprint race of 2011, but Davide Rigon was injured in a late accident.
The weather was once again warm, sunny and dry at Istanbul Park in Turkey for the second race of the opening round of the 2011 GP2 season, which saw a lengthy hold at the lights before polesitter Dani Clos got a perfect start and raced off into turn 1.
Behind him, Charles Pic got a decent start off dirty side of the grid, as did Stefano Coletti behind him, both cars beating Luiz Razia into the first turn after the AirAsia bogged down and struggled to get away. Coletti briefly got in front of Pic into the first corner but then ran out of track and had to pull back, temporarily dropping the Trident back into the clutches of the battling duo of Razia and Giedo van der Garde.
Coletti's setback was purely temporary, and with a clearly faster car he was able to slingshot round the outside of a long right hander to take second place from Pic just a few turns later, while van der Garde got the better of Razia for fifth place.
Behind them was the battling pack of Saturday's feature race winners: Sam Bird had fallen behind Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi, and the two were having a fierce battle that included Bianchi giving the back of the Dams car a light tap through the first corners. They were still battling toward the end of the lead lap, with Bianchi aggressively forced Grosjean into conceding position into the final corner, and Romain having none of it.
Contact was inevitable: the right side of Grosjean's front wing caught Bianchi and tipped the Lotus ART into a spin right across the track. The following cars did incredibly well not to run straight into Bianchi or into one another, and he was able to get back underway albeit down in 22nd place; Grosjean carried for a few minutes but his front wing was trashed and he was easy prey to faster cars, so he had to pit for a new nose unit that dropped him down to the back of the field.
Two of Saturday's polesitters were effectively out of contention, and that left Sam Bird the major winner up into sixth place ahead of Clos's Racing Engineering team mate Christian Vietoris, Razia's AirAsia team mate Davide Valsecchi, Bird's iSport team mateMarcus Ericsson, Super Nova's Fairuz Fauzy and Arden's Josef Kral.
Vietoris was next to exit the race with a high speed accident off into the gravel trap and into the tyre wall at turn 3 on lap 4 after battling with Davide Valsecchi.
Up front, Dani Clos had pulled out an initial big lead, but once released into second Coletti was by far the fastest of the leaders and was quickly up to the back of the Racing Engineering car. Coletti finally mode a move for the lead going down into turn 12 on lap 6, which didn't quick come off but put the two cars into the final corners side-by-side and set Coletti up nicely to dive to the inside line off the final corner for a chance of outdragging Clos down the start/finish straight. Clos tried to play an intelligent game and let Coletti take it, relying on the Trident outbraking himself into turn 1 of lap 7, but Coletti held it together and the two cars went into turn 2 side-by-side before finally Clos lost momentum and had to yield, dropping back into second place.
Coletti was never troubled again, but it was the start of a major decline for Clos. Just as had happened on Saturday, the Racing Engineering seemed extremely fast on fresh tyres only to have performance drop off the proverbial cliff after the midpoint of the race. Even so, Clos' fall to 15th place by the chequered flag was astonishing, as he was overtaken by just about everyone lap after lap for the final half of the race.
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