To coin a well-used athletics phrase, Jose Maria Lopez went 'on the B of Bang' to snatch the lead - and eventual victory - in the second GP2 race of the weekend in Barcelona.

The Argentine fired his DAMS Dallara past lone front row starter Adam Carroll into a lead he was not to lose over the course of 18 laps, despite the intervention of the safety car at one-third distance.

With poleman Alex Negrao - in top spot because of his eighth-place finish on Saturday - stalling at the start of the warm-up lap, pre-race favourite Carroll was left alone on the front row, but was on the dirty side of the track. Lopez, meanwhile, had not only the rubbered-in racing line, but also clear track ahead of him, and made it count by sprinting past the Irishman to lead clearly by the first corner.

Carroll slotted into second, but Piquet, who started behind the Super Nova driver, was right with him as Lopez eased away. Neel Jani initially made fourth position his, although pressure from Scott Speed had already paid off by the end of the opening lap, while Fairuz Fauzy jumped from twelfth to sixth.

The Malaysian's rise was aided in part by the confusion caused when points leader Heikki Kovalainen made a faltering getaway, those behind him having to react to the unexpected obstacle. Particularly affected was race one winner Gianmaria Bruni, who started directly behind the Finn, but the Coloni driver was quickly back into his stride, diving inside Fauzy for the final points place at turn one on lap two.

The local BCN team's weekend got steadily worse as both Ernesto Viso and Hiroki Yoshimoto made bad starts, although the Japanese driver at least got into the race and held fastest lap for while, until DPR's Ryan Sharp, also the victim of a poor getaway, trumped him at the end.

The order stayed roughly the same - Olivier Pla's dusty exit notwithstanding - until lap six, when Alex Premat, who had been looking increasingly wayward in the best of the ART Grand Prix cars took a little to much grass exiting the final corner and speared back across the road into the pit-wall. Lucky not to have collected ART team-mate Nico Rosberg on the way, the Frenchman careered some way down the straight before eventually being arrested by a second impact with the wall.

The safety car was called out to slow the pace while the wreckage was cleared away, wiping out Lopez's near three-second lead at a stroke. After two laps of sedate motoring, Carroll attempted to pounce at the resumption of racing, but got perhaps too close to Lopez and was rebuffed by the leader into turn one. The Irishman then had to dig in as former British F3 rival Piquet began to hound him all over again.

Bruni's hopes of adding another podium to his race one victory expired at the end of the main straight, the Italian having to pull off with a suspected mechanical failure, and allowing Fauzy back into the points. The Malaysian was acting as the stopper in an increasingly large bottle, however, with Rosberg, Clivio Piccione, Borja Garcia and Nicolas Lapierre all in close attendance.

The Frenchman passed Garcia on lap eleven, but could then do little about those ahead of him. At about the same time, Negrao, no doubt shrouded in red mist, collected the hapless Can Artam at turn one, punting the Turk into retirement, but managing to scrabble free of the gravel trap on his way to a distant 15th place finish.

Rosberg eventually found a way past Fauzy, and turned in some fastest laps as he set about reeling in Jani. However, the real focus returned to the scrap between Carroll and Piquet, as the pair diced over the remaining podium positions in Lopez's wake.

The two had enjoyed a spirited dice throughout 2004, but came a little too close on this occasion, with Piquet nerfing the Super Nova car out of second place on the final lap. Carroll was unable to respond as he struggled to find a gear with which to resume, and was almost collected by the chasing pack as he crawled out his spin.

Piquet went on to finish as runner-up, despite having Saturday poleman Scott Speed right under his rear wing at the flag, while Rosberg gratefully accepted a fourth place that had not seemed possible with just a couple of tours remaining. Jani added more points for Spanish team Racing Engineering, with Carroll classified a recovering sixth, a second behind the Swiss pilot.

The result reduces Kovalainen's championship lead to nothing, with Speed joining the Finn in top spot. Bruni's win on Saturday moved the Italian to within two points of P1, while Lopez now lies just a single mark further back. Monaco should be good...

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment