by Dan Shires
Frenchman Alexandre Premat kept his head whilst all around him lost theirs to win the inaugural GP2 race in Istanbul on Saturday afternoon.
The 23-year-old driving for ART Grand Prix followed up his victory at the Hungaroring two weeks ago to take his second win of the season, ahead of Italian Giorgio Pantano in the Super Nova and Spaniard Borja Garcia in the Racing Engineering.
Premat made use of his strong sixth place on the starting grid to keep a watching brief in the early stages before working his way up to first after a problem for his team mate and early leader Nico Rosberg and a late pit stop for American Scott Speed during a second safety car period.
The race began under the hot Turkish sun as the cars lined up on the grid of the Istanbul Otodrome for the first time. Good racing had been promised following rave reviews from the drivers in practice and qualifying, and as the lights went out pole sitter Nico Rosberg had a reasonable getaway with Scott Speed making up ground from second place. They were both almost jumped by Jose Maria Lopez in the number 14 DAMS entry from third on the grid, but Rosberg cut across and made his advantage stick as they entered the first corner.
Speed's entry to the 's' bend was a little two hot however, and just gave Rosberg a minor nudge in the tailpipe slightly damaging his nosecone.
Further back it the cars bunched up as they all jockeyed for position, as Mathias Lauda and Alexandre Negrao touched sending them both onto the apron with the Brazilian losing the bodywork ahead of his cockpit.
As the leaders progressed around the first of the 33 laps, Rosberg held his advantage, followed by Speed, Lopez, Pantano and Nelson Piquet with Adam Carroll in the second Super Nova attacking Premat around the outside of turn seven.
The action was occurring all over the circuit with both Speed and Pantano harrying the back of the drivers ahead of them, before Premat had a go at Piquet with Carroll trying to dive through as well. Former Minardi F1 driver Gianmaria Bruni attempted to pass Piquet in the same breath but couldn't make the move stick.
As the drivers entered the final turn to complete lap one, 20th placed Neel Jani tripped over himself and ended up on the inside of the pit wall which caused the deployment of the safety car, causing the majority of the teams to bring their drivers in for their first pit stops.
After three laps behind the Mercedes Jani's Racing Engineering entry was cleared away and the race was back on.