David Sears' determination to hold out for Adam Carroll's services was rewarded on the opening weekend of the GP2 Series when the young Irishman clinched victory in the Sunday morning sprint event at Imola.

Starting from the second row of the grid, Carroll was in the hunt for the podium from the start and, having picked off Neel Jani on lap of 17, closed quickly on the ART duo that had initially pulled away out front.

Hoping for better reliability after the disappointment of race one, the organisers had taken the surprising step of switching brake manufacturers. The Carbone Lorraine items were squarely blamed by several teams for problems leading either to retirement or cars dropping down the order, and the series decided to take advantage of an available supply of Brembo replacements.

That didn't prevent the field from starting without two its number, one of whom, Ernesto Viso, blamed the new brakes for his exit after going off on the installation lap. Ferdinando Monfardini was also missing, his Durango entry parked by the side of the track as the grid moved off. Clivio Piccione's miserable weekend then reduced the field further, with Scott Speed, Can Artam and Mathias Lauda all out by lap four.

Having run initially in the train formed behind the comparatively slow Jani, Carroll seized his moment to dive past at Rivazza and set off after the leaders. He closed quickly on second placed Alex Premat, but the Frenchman mounted a stern defence in the face of passing moves at Tamburello and Traguardo.

The pair were then suddenly within striking distance of leader Nico Rosberg, the Finn clearly suffering brake problems, eventually running wide enough at Rivazza to let his pursuers through.

Premat continued to lead back to almost the exact same spot as he had inherited the advantage, but then also ran slightly off line, giving Carroll the run to Traguardo for the tenth time. The two cars entered side-by-side, but Premat was forced to use the grass to avoid his rival, and then almost speared the Super Nova machine as he rejoined the track. Carroll, however, was undeterred, catching a slide of his own as he moved ahead. From there, it proved to be a cruise for the F3 graduate, who eventually won by more than five seconds.

Premat managed to retain second spot, despite the late race attentions of race one winner Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn had moved up from eighth on the grid - his 'penalty' for winning on Saturday - disposing of Jose Maria Lopez and Gianmaria Bruni early on. Jani posed more of a problem, twice cutting the Traguardo in his effort to stay ahead, but eventually succumbed to a puncture, the result possibly of his indiscretions.

Bruni held on in fourth, despite spewing smoke each time he climbed the hill out of Tosa, but always had company in what began as a five-car battle. Olivier Pla drove a tidier race than he had managed on Saturday, and was rewarded with fifth place and two points, while Nelson Piquet threw away the chance to open his account with a double score after an off at Rivazza as he challenged the Frenchman. The Brazilian had enough in hand, however, and still came home ahead of the two Campos Racing cars - which had run together for much of the race - to claim sixth.

Juan Cruz Alvarez was the 'unlucky' man this time around, unable to hold back a charging Piquet and having to accept the first non-scoring position, although he had the upper hand on team-mate Sergio Hernandez. Hiroki Yoshimoto put his early weekend disappointments behind him as he climbed through to ninth, finishing ahead of Borja Garcia, who will be glad to have got some competitive mileage under his belt after a difficult Saturday.

The DAMS duo of Lopez and Fairuz Fauzy were next up, both having a few too many off-road moments, while Alex Negrao and Ryan Sharp both saw the chequered flag for the first time, as they came home ahead of the refettled Jani.

Joining the retirements were Carroll's team-mate Giorgio Pantano, early leader Rosberg and the luckless Nicolas Lapierre, who started from the pit-lane after his Arden team made some last-minute checks to try and prevent another early exit. The Frenchman managed to set fastest lap on just his second tour, but only last three more before calling it a day.

Lapierre currently lies seventh in the championship, courtesy of his bonus points for pole and fastest lap, but it is team-mate Kovalainen who leads the way, his 14-point aggregate keeping him four ahead of Carroll. Lopez and Bruni share third spot, a further two adrift, while Arden, unsurprisingly, tops the teams' series.



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