16 February 2008
Sentul 2008: Filippi rules under marshal law.
Luca Filippi gave the GP2 Asia Series its second race winner by just over a tenth of a second after an incident-packed Sentul feature punctuated by two safety car periods.
The Italian appeared to make the best getaway as the lights went out on a dry but very dirty grid, but failed to get ahead of poleman Vitaly Petrov as the Campos driver hooked up on the run to turn one. Struggling for grip as he went through the gears, Filippi then found himself under threat from the second row pairing of Adrian Valles and Romain Grosjean, but held firm through the first corner, chopping the Frenchman off in the process.
The battle continued throughout the opening lap, with Valles taking several looks past the Qi-Meritus car, but the scrapping only allowed Petrov to pull out a 1.7secs lead by the time the field came back across the stripe.
It was already a depleted field, with neither Marcelo Puglisi or Kamui Kobayashi taking the start, although the Japanese star did attempt to complete the formation lap, and several cars littering the still wet gravel traps. First to go were the luckless Christian Bakkerud and Harald Schlegelmilch, the Dane having been tapped into a spin by Karun Chandhok and then collected by the closely following Trident car.
Neither would continue, and Jason Tahinci and Adam Khan both joined them on the sidelines having limped back to the pits, the Turk with left front suspension damage and his Anglo-Pakistani rival with a right front puncture and associated damage to the corner. Alberto Valerio and Ho-Pin Tung both spun on the treacherous surface, dropping down the order but resuming.
Although there were no injuries, the safety car was deployed to clear up the stricken cars - and remained on track for fully eleven laps as the corner workers struggled to clear Bakkerud's Super Nova machine. Fruitless attempts to drag the car to safety using an ageing 4x4 served only to make the Super Nova crew nervous about further damage, or threaten to overturn the rescue vehicle, before the dark blue Dallara was finally moved.
Thankfully, Schlegelmilch's machine appeared to take less effort to clear and racing finally resumed on lap 14, by which time the majority of the field had made their mandatory pit-stop. Petrov resumed 'in front', the Campos team having executed a swift turnaround, but Valles was gifted a chance to take second as Filippi's crew proved not quite as sharp, and Sebastien Buemi moved up to 'third' by jumping Grosjean and Chandhok.
Among those electing not to stop - or being prevented from doing so by tactics - was Bruno Senna, who had to cede to iSport team-mate Chandhok, the Indian holding superior track position at the time of the safety car despite his brush with Bakkerud. Behind the Brazilian, Filippi's team-mate Hiroki Yoshimoto, Piquet Sport's Marco Bonanomi, ART's Stephen Jelley, FMSI's Michael Herck and the Durango pairing of David Valsecchi and Valerio all held sway over Petrov and co, albeit not for long.
Once the green flags had signalled the resumption of racing, the Russian made it his goal to carve through the front of the field as soon as possible, fending off Valles' initial challenge and then leaving the Spaniard to deal with Filippi. With Petrov past Valerio, the chasing duo had to negotiate the Brazilian, and it was Filippi who came out on top, boxing his rival in to reclaim 'second' spot.
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