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Monaco's Richelmi claims famous home victory

Monaco-born Stephane Richelmi picked up his first win in the GP2 Series, and he did it at his home circuit in Saturday afternoon's sprint race.
Full sprint race 2 results

Stephane Richelmi picked up his maiden win in the GP2 Series championship, and he did it at his home event in Monaco. In so doing, the 24-year-old Monegasque made it a brace of wins for DAMS at the unique, historic venue.

Richelmi had set himself up with pole position for the sprint race after finishing in eighth place in Friday's feature event. He was joined on the front row on Saturday afternoon by Caterham's Rio Haryanto, while behind them were Campos Racing's Arthur Pic and Trident's Sergio Canamasas.

When the lights went out, Richelmi and Haryanto both got solid launches off the grid to go into Ste Devote neck-and-neck. The Caterham was ultimately forced to yield the position, in the process lost his momentum and found himself passed for second place by Canamasas who had got off to a flier from the second row.

The start itself had been clean, but on the first lap Tio Ellinas (MP Motorsport) went into the rear of a suddenly-slow Artem Markelov (Russian Time) in Massenet: the Russian was handed a drive-thru penalty for causing the incident, but Ellinas suffered front wing damage that saw him make multiple calls on pit lane and go a lap down.

Felipe Nasr then suffered a flat right rear coming down the hill which forced him into the run-off to retire the Carlin, and two laps later Racing Engineering's Raffaele Marciello earned a drive-thru of his own after he nerfed MP Motorsport's Daniel de Jong into the barrier at the hairpin.

At the front, Richelmi had been unable to pull away to safety and Canamasas was firmly camped on the DAMS' rear end, the pair soon enjoying a four second gap over Haryanto, Johnny Cecotto Jr. (Trident), Pic and Mitch Evans (Russian Time), with championship leader Jolyon Palmer still stuck in seventh place in the DAMS ahead of Rapax's Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.

The big advantage that the two leaders had built up was neutralised on lap 14 by a safety car, caused by Markelov overcooking his run through Ste Devote and giving the barriers a hard clout on the exit, leaving debris on the track and the remains of the Russian Time car stranded on the outside of the run up to Beau Rivage where it would not be readily retrieved. Markelov proved to be the final retirement of the afternoon, Takuya Izawa's day having already come to an end the lap before with apparent left front brake problems on the ART.

Markelov's exit set up a tense restart on lap 17, but no one was able to press home a solid advantage when the safety car pulled away. Richelmi got a good jump over Canamasas, while Haryanto succeeded in fending off a feisty Cecotto in their scrap for third. Richelmi's advantage didn't last long, however, and soon the Trident was once again camped out on the DAMS' rear, while Haryanto was again soon dropped by the leaders but safely ahead of Cecotto in the second Trident.

With no scheduled pit stops for the 30-lap sprint, and with the weather conditions as spectacularly perfect as you could imagine, the main question now was who could look after their tyres best and whether anyone could take advantage on those drivers struggling with degradation in the latter half of the race. Canamasas showed the first sign of possible weakness when he overshot the entry to the Nouvelle Chicane on lap 20, having to pause and allow Richelmi back into the lead position before resuming, in the process having dropped a second away from the leader for the first time all afternoon. He soon closed that down again and resumed his dogged pursuit, but Richelmi appeared unflappable at the front.

Haryanto was left increasingly isolated in third place, well ahead of Cecotto who was now increasingly struggling and off the pace as he held up a train of more than a dozen closely packed cars all of whom were itching to jump at the slightest sliver of opportunity that may present itself. Less than ten seconds covered the field from fourth to 18th position with six laps to go, but despite Cecotto running two seconds off the race pace the Venezuelan kept himself firmly planted on the racing line and there seemed nothing that Pic could do about getting past, locking up on several occasions as he probed he Trident for any weaknesses. Further back, Racing Engineering's Stefano Coletti did manage a pass on Venezuela GP Lazarus' Conor Day for ninth place, sadly just outside the points.

But at the front, Richelmi had now broken free of the threat from Canamasas and he was a full two seconds clear of the Trident as they went into the final lap, more than enough to secure him a terrific home win at the most famous motor racing circuit in the world. Haryanto followed across the line six seconds in arrears, and then it was a whopping 17 second wait for Cecotto to successfully claim the chequered flag in fourth place ahead of Pic and the rest of the field which had packed up behind him in during the closing laps.

Full sprint race 2 results

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Stephane Richelmi (MON, DAMS) during practice at  Monte Carlo, Monaco on Thursday 22 May 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stephane Richelmi (MON, DAMS) before Race 1 Monte Carlo, Monaco. Friday 23 May 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stephane Richelmi (MON, DAMS) after winning race 2 at Monte Carlo, Monaco on Saturday 24 May 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stephane Richelmi (MON, DAMS) after winning race 2 at Monte Carlo, Monaco on Saturday 24 May 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Artem Markelov, F2, Bahrain
Artem Markelov
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Sergio Canamasas - Carlin
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Charles Leclerc - ART   [pic credit: GP3 Media]
Artem Markelov - Russian Time
Artem Markelov - Russian Time
Jake Hughes - DAMS [credit: GP3 Series]
Jake Hughes - DAMS [credit: GP3 Series]
Jakes Hughes, DAMS, GP3 [Credit: Jake Hughes PR]
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Nicholas Latifi (CAN, DAMS) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday 3 December 2015. Nicholas Latifi (CAN, DAMS) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

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