CLICK: Full Sunday sprint race results
CLICK: Current GP2 championship standings
A flying start from Johnny Cecotto Jr in the Sunday morning sprint race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria saw the Trident driver claim his second win of the season after he was able to hold up under intense pressure from Racing Engineering duo Raffaele Marciello and Stefano Coletti.
Caterham's Alexander Rossi had started the race from pole position alongside the Russian Time #1 driven by Mitch Evans, but sluggish starts from both men allowed Cecotto to blast off the second row in the Trident and claim the lead going into turn 1. Rossi managed to recover second place, but Evans was crowded out by the two Racing Engineering cars of Marciello and Coletti who were soon engaged in a fierce private battle for third position.
Marciello came out top of that scrap and quickly hunted down Rossi for second place, which he took with a superbly executed strong-arm move on the Caterham on lap 6. Nor was Marciello done yet, as he immediately set a new fastest lap of the race as he took off in pursuit of the race leader who was just over a second down the road.
While Marciello closed up on Cecotto he was unable to find the crucial edge to force his way past. The battle at the front started to back up rest of the leaders, with only five seconds covering the top seven drivers which included Coletti, Evans, Julian Leal (Carlin) and championship leader Jolyon Palmer (DAMS) who was pushing so hard that he was warned for exceeding track limits.
The first break in the logjam came when Rossi's tyres started to go off leaving him unable to fend off Coletti on lap 16 - or Evans two laps later. Coletti used his momentum and growing confidence to re-pass his team mate for second place, Marciello appearing to pay for his early flying laps with his pace dropping off in the latter half of the race which had allowed Cecotto to pull away to safety again at the front. Behind the leaders, Palmer finally came out top in a spirited battle with Leal to put him up to sixth place, but Leal didn't have to fear any attacks from ART's Takuya Izawa who was over seven seconds further back down the road in the final points position.
Having claimed second spot, Coletti was soon closing the gap on Cecotto with a new fastest lap of the race. Cecotto responded and went into the final lap with a half second lead which was just enough to keep him safe from any last minute strikes from the Racing Engineering driver. That meant Cecotto was able to clinch the chequered flag and claim his fourth win in the GP2 Series, his second of the season after also taking victory in the Catalunya feature race last month.
The final place on the podium went to Marciello, who in the closing laps had twice foiled what had appeared to be successful overtaking move from Mitch Evans who ultimately had to settle for fourth. Pole man Rossi managed to cling on to fifth place after holding off Palmer despite his degraded tyres, while Leal was the highest placed Carlin after Saturday's feature race winner Felipe Nasr was forced into retirement early in the race after suffering contact on the opening lap, which foiled any hopes the team might have had of scoring a grand sweep of all four GP2 and GP3 race wins in Austria.
Izawa picked up the final point on offer, with Sergio Canamasas (Trident) and Stéphane Richelmi (DAMS) rounding out the top ten. In the points standings, Palmer lead over Nasr is down to 33 points, with Cecotto now closing in third place after his successful weekend in Austria. In the team standings, DAMS' lead over Carlin is trimmed to just 15 points.
The next GP2 race of the 2014 season will be at Silverstone on July 4-6.
Full Sunday sprint race results
Current GP2 championship standings