29 September 2007
Valencia 2007: Perfect Petrov.
Vitaly Petrov has secured his first ever GP2 Series victory in the feature race finale at Valencia, the Russian heading Campos Grand Prix team-mate Giorgio Pantano for a breakthrough result for the team on home soil.
A surprise victory for a driver that came into the season as a relative unknown but comes out of it now as a race winner, Petrov triumphed in a typically exciting afternoon of racing that was blighted early on by a rain shower that deluged the Spanish circuit, although it was dry by its climax.
It was a resounding win too for Petrov, whose previous best result was a fifth place finish, getting a superb start in wet conditions to leap from eighth on the grid to third and inheriting the lead on lap seven, going from there to head home more illustrious team-mate Pantano by just over two seconds.
Indeed, the results reflected plenty of surprises – not least for the partisan Spanish fans - with many of the established front runners failing to make it to the chequered flag, creating the prospect of an exciting sprint race at least.
Most importantly for the title race though, Timo Glock was one of those that made the distance and has eked his advantage out to four points after finishing in seventh place, while Lucas di Grassi crashed out in the early stages. Although the Brazilian can still win the title, Glock will start the sprint race from second and needs to finish just fourth to guarantee that the title goes his way.
A downpour an hour before the race threw a curve ball into proceedings as the drivers got underway, the damp circuit always expected to dry before the end of the race, making strategy more important than usual. Nonetheless, those who chose slick tyres benefited most at the start, despite some damp patches, with a number of drivers flying off the line.
They included Petrov, who flew off the line, surging up from the fourth row to enter the first corner in third place, slotting in behind pole sitter Kazuki Nakajima and Roldan Rodriguez, the Brazilian showing impressive pace around the circuit on which he made his name whilst racing in Spanish Formula 3.
However, the Minardi Piquet Sports driver's charge was a false one when he took the lead of the race by the end of the first lap by finding a shortcut. Although it was the first time he has led outright all season, the novelty did not last long when he spun terminally just as a drive-through penalty was handed out.
Petrov was pushing though and, aided by a rather stubborn lapped driver Mikhail Aleshin who blocked Nakajima for much of the sixth lap, got the run on the Japanese driver and took the lead.
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