Just as he did at Magny-Cours and Silverstone, Nico Rosberg left his rivals far behind as he cruised to a third GP2 Series victory in as many meetings.

The German stepped up his title challenge to Heikki Kovalainen by adding to the two points he secured for pole position on Friday with a full haul of ten more on race day, pulling away from the opposition and finally enjoying a 15-second margin over ART Grand Prix team-mate Alex Premat at the end of 40 laps.

Rosberg made no mistake when the lights went out, and was already clear at the front when the usual Hockenheim mayhem broke out in the pack.

Adam Carroll was one of the first to suffer, pitting before the race even began, and the Irishman was not long for the race, his Super Nova entry so sick that retirement was the only option.

The rest of the field appeared to get round turns one and two without any heavy contact but, at the hairpin, contact between Fairuz Fauzy and Ferdinando Monfardini ahead of him, plus the rapid arrival of Alex Negrao, accounted for the Brazilian, as well as leaving the DAMS entry with a loose rear wing, something that caused Fauzy to rotate again not long afterwards, although he waited for the pit window to open before stopping for attention.

Further up the order, contact was avoided, but the close nature of competition ensured that there were winners and losers all the same. As is so often the case, those on a roll benefit most, with Kovalainen muscling his way up the order from row five, and forcing both Ernesto Viso and BCN team-mate Hiroki Yoshimoto to take avoiding action. Viso, from sixth, had made a solid getaway, but now found himself scrapping to remain in the point-scoring places along with Giorgio Pantano and Neel Jani.

Rosberg continued to set out his stall from the off, his pace on lap two being good enough complete a full haul of points with a brace of bonuses to add to those for pole. Kovalainen, on the other hand, opted for an early pit-stop in case the safety car was deployed to clear Negrao's machine and he could benefit to boost himself up the order against renewed opposition.

The leader was being eagerly pursued by front row qualifier Scott Speed, with Premat not far away in third. Silverstone winner Olivier Pla had also made a good getaway to hold on to his fourth spot, but was demoted a couple of places in the following few laps and pitted for new tyres before the damage got any worse.

By lap three, Rosberg had opened out a second a lap advantage, and continued to pull away over the remaining 37 tours. The German made his mandatory pit-call on lap twelve, four after Premat, allowing Speed into a temporary lead, but had enough in hand to overhaul the American when iSport finally opted to complete its tyre change.

Much to Speed's frustration, Premat's pace was also good enough to move the second ART entry ahead of the Red Bull-backed Dallara, although the American was quickly on his French rival's tail and looking for a way through.

Further back, Kovalainen was now onto Pantano's tail, and their ensuing scrap allowed Viso to close in, ready to accept anything thrown from the table. One move from the points leader almost handed the Venezuelan a place or two, but both Kovalainen and Pantano recovered quickly enough to keep the BCN car at bay. Viso then ran wide as his pursuit picked up momentum, relieving the immediate pressure. Kovalainen eventually got his man, and fifth position, after out-braking Pantano around the outside into the left-hander in front of the Mercedes stand.

The Finn's next target should have been Piquet, but the Brazilian was both too far up the road, and shaping to take advantage of the Premat-Speed battle ahead of him. The American was clearly the quicker of the pair ahead of the Hitech car, but Premat had each of his moves covered. Eventually the frustration told, and Speed misjudged turn one, running wide enough for Piquet to take advantage, despite the iSport car veering wildly across his bows in an attempt to retain third place. Piquet survived the move and slowly eased away to claim a podium finish.

Speed eventually finish half a second back of the Brazilian, but similarly untroubled by Kovalainen, who was nine seconds further back. The Finn, however, had dropped Pantano, the Super Nova driver remaining in the clutches of Viso, although the Venezuelan was never quite close enough to offer a challenge.

Seventh place was good enough to double his score, however, and guarantees the BCN team a front row start on Sunday morning. Viso will line up alongside another first-time pointscorer as Borja Garcia held on to take eighth place, albeit under duress from Pla, who faded from contention after his early stop. Neither Viso or Garcia will necessarily be pleased with the finishing positions, having shared row three at the start, but finishing, first of all, was something of a rarity for both, and points will be a confidence-booster as the series enters its second half.

Among those to have missed out this time around, Nicolas Lapierre never recovered after almost spearing team-mate Kovalainen as he attempted to follow the Finn past Neel Jani mid-race. The Frenchman came home in tenth position, just ahead of Juan Cruz Alvarez, who drove a strong race, but again without reward. The Argentine finished five seconds clear of Ryan Sharp, although the Briton will regard seeing the chequered flag as something of a bonus after a troubled year.

Hiroki Yoshimoto lost any chance of points after a slow pit-stop, but at least he only made one, unlike either Coloni driver or Durango's Clivio Piccione. While Mathias Lauda did come home under power, neither Piccione or Gianmaria Bruni took the flag, joining the likes of Carroll, Jani, Fauzy and Negrao in retirement.

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