Nicolas Lapierre claimed only the second win of his 2007 career in comfortable fashion at Spa-Francorchamps, leading from lights to flag and only missing out on a full house of points as championship leader Timo Glock attempted to make up for stalling at the start by pursuing the fastest lap bonus.

Although Lapierre spun the wheels of his DAMS Dallara off the line, he had enough in hand to fend off the challenge of the fast-starting Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian initially getting the better of front row starter Luca Filippi before going wheel-to-wheel with the Italian at the remodelled La Source. Their skirmish allowed Lapierre to aim down the hill to Eau Rouge in front, and the Frenchman was seldom troubled again.

Already facing an uphill struggle, however, were a quintet who failed to make it off the line - incredibly including both iSport cars of Glock and Andi Zuber, as well as Kazuki Nakajima, Kohei Hirate and third-place qualifier Bruno Senna. All restarted from the pit-lane, but were left to chase bonus points barring catastrophe on the road ahead.

Lapierre opened out a handy lead over di Grassi in the first few laps, but suddenly found the Brazilian on his tail at the end of lap seven. The ART car was close enough to take a run into La Source - where Lapierre left the door wide open - but the Frenchman had enough in hand to win the race up the hill and kept di Grassi behind. That was the Brazilian's only shot at leading as, following the pit-stops, he dropped away from the frontrunning battle.

The two leaders came in together on lap eight, albeit later than most of their immediate rivals, rejoining nose-to-tail. But, where Lapierre was able to get straight back into the groove, di Grassi found himself swallowed up by both Filippi and Adam Carroll - the Irishman having also made a lightning start to lie fourth early on - and appeared destined to make less than expected of title rival Glock's misfortune.

Further back, the absence of Senna, Nakajima and the iSport duo allowed the top eight to take on an unexpected appearance, with Vitaly Petrov, Javier Villa, Sebastien Buemi, Xandi Negrao and Ho-Pin Tung to all feature at times. Giorgio Pantano would have expected to take advantage of the absentees, but was forced out of the race on lap one when his Campos Grand Prix entry again developed transmission problems.

Villa, Tung, Marcos Martinez and Borja Garcia all took turns at leading while the pit-stops cycled through but, once normal order was resumed, it was Lapierre back in control, the Frenchman not willing to wait for Garcia to pit and passing the Durango man at the new-look Bus Stop on lap 13.

With his pursuers taking a little longer to dispense with the Spaniard, Lapierre was able to open out a nice cushion, with Filippi and Carroll also giving each other things to think about as they battled over second. di Grassi, meanwhile, had fallen away from the podium places, but was untroubled by those behind.

The Brazilian was then gifted an extra point when Carroll, in the heat of pursuing second place, found his FMSI car swapping ends on the exit of Pouhon. Replays showed the Briton had got a little greedy on the high inside kerb, and was unable to prevent the car from nosing into the barriers, breaking its front wing and ending another promising race.

With di Grassi moving back in to the top three, the podium positions were as good as settled with problems intervening, leaving the interest to settle on the minor places. Villa's strategy of stopping later than the frontrunners paid off when he found himself elevated to fourth, having started 14th, while Mike Conway, having escaped the sort of first corner misfortune that has dogged his debut season, ran in fifth.

Behind them Negrao looked set for another points finish, even though he had his hands full of Andy Soucek, the DPR team enjoying a rare good afternoon. The 2005 Spanish F3 champion closed on Negrao through the middle of the race before finally finding a way by two laps from home. It quickly transpired that Negrao had problems, however, the Minardi Piquet Sport car quitting at the Bus Stop next time around and promoting both Karun Chandhok and Ho-Pin Tung - who had both disposed of Petrov - into the points.

Chandhok, quite apart from continuing his strong end to the season, had had an eventful afternoon, looking one of the more racy pilots on track as he explored the new overtaking opportunities presented by the revamped Spa, but also getting the odd attempt wrong, as Buemi will attest. The Indian wasn't the only one to make errors of judgement, however, with Roldan Rodriguez guilty of ending a possible double points haul for DPR by turning the returning Christian Bakkerud around early on, and Senna clattering the barriers as he attempted to atone for his stall at the start.

Outside the points - and, for much of the race, outside the top 20 - Glock, Nakajima and Zuber traded fastest laps before the German pitted for fresh rubber and rejoined in pursuit of a bonus point to limit di Grassi's championship gains. Despite Carroll's generosity, the Brazilian's six-point haul, offset by a single for Glock, only halved the gap between the top two, ensuring that the battle will go the Valencia finale later this month.