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Norman Nato has clinched his maiden GP2 Series victory after an opportunistic pass on Pierre Gasly late on saw him prevail at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Frenchman started from the front row and held second position during the opening stages, but a late safety car period would bunch the field up enough for him to launch a successful attack on long-time leader Gasly with six laps to go.

Indeed, Gasly had looked well on course to complete his first GP2 win after controlling the lead from pole position, even if Nato and third place Sergey Sirotkin failed to let him get away out front.

However, it was Sirotkin that would turn the race on its head on lap 24 when he spun at turn two whilst putting Nato under pressure. With the Russian stalling his ART car in the middle of the track, the safety car was called, allowing the longer-running front runners to dive into the pit lane for fresh tyres and remain in front.

Allowing Nato a renewed opportunity to attack Gasly, the Racing Engineering driver duly pounced at turn nine as the race resumed to nose into the lead, whereby he controlled the lead to the chequered flag for his first win.

With Gasly's challenge fading in the Prema car, rookie Nicholas Latifi to launch his own attack, the Canadian passing the Red Bull Junior driver on the penultimate lap to secure an impressive podium finish on his GP2 debut.

With the results favouring those who waited to stop later, though Artem Markelov came out of the pit lane seventh, his fresher tyres would see him charge back up to fourth place in the Russian Time car, ahead of Alex Lynn, the best placed driver to pit in the early stages.

A late signing for Carlin this weekend, GP2 veteran Sergio Canamasas secured good points in sixth place after also benefiting from the late safety car, while Jordan King made it two Racing Engineering cars inside the points in seventh place.

In the fight for eighth place to secure pole position for the sprint race, Raffaele Marciello looked set to prevail after passing Antonio Giovanazzi with two laps remaining, only to be shoved into the gravel trap at turn four by his countryman on the final lap.

As it stands, Giovinazzi has retained the position - giving him pole for race two -, while Gustav Malja and Oliver Rowland complete the top ten and the points.

In a largely trouble-free race, Luca Ghiotto was the only other driver beyond Marciello and Sirotkin not to reach the chequered flag, the Italian sliding off on the first lap at turn three.

 

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