Clivio Piccione took full advantage of early leader Gianmaria Bruni's misfortune, and the squabbling in the pack around him, to break away and snatch an unexpected victory for Durango Corse in race two of the GP2 weekend at the Nurburgring.

Lining up second on the grid after his seventh place finish on Saturday, the Monegasque almost didn't start the sprint event, crawling away on the formation lap. Whether that was playing on his mind at the real getaway is uncertain, but Piccione found himself swamped on the run to turn one, eventually emerging in fourth place as Nelson Piquet Jr and Neel Jani fought over the right to lead the pursuit of poleman Bruni.

Piquet's efforts to get into the lead at turn one saw him run wide, gifting second spot to Jani, and the move quickly appeared to be handing Bruni a possible second win in the series as the Swiss driver provided something of a bottleneck that allowed Bruni to extend a six-second lead in just a few laps.

Although there wasn't quite the first corner carnage that opened Saturday's race, the Sunday sprint claimed its own casualties, with Ernesto Viso and Mathias Lauda making contact, putting both men out by the end of the lap. At the other end of the lap, Nico Rosberg put a move on points leader Heikki Kovalainen that not only gained him a place, but also potentially kept him in the event.

Heading into turn one for the second time, Sunday finally produced its wreckers' yard as the ambitious Jose Maria Lopez collected the hapless Nicolas Lapierre, tossing the Frenchman into the equally unsuspecting Kovalainen. Rosberg, had made the corner just seconds before, and escaped the pile-up in his wake, but team-mate Alex Premat was not so fortunate, joining the list of retirements. Ryan Sharp was delayed but narrowly avoided becoming involved. Adding injury to insult as both Arden cars were ruled out on the spot, Lapierre was spotted holding his left wrist as a legacy of the contact.

Incredibly, the safety car wasn't called for this time, allowing Bruni to continue on his merry way out front. Behind him, however, Jani was contributing to a increasingly frenetic battle that made GP2 appear more like Formula Ford for the remainder of the 24 laps.

The Coloni car continued to pull away at around a second a lap, eventually enjoying a six-second lead by lap 13, but Bruni was destined not to go much further as mechanical gremlins returned to hobble his getaway.

With the Italian limping back to the pits, Jani was left at the front of a battle for the lead, and the pack behind him now covered the entire range of points positions, with Piquet, Piccione and Rosberg having been joined by the Super Nova duo of Giorgio Pantano and Adam Carroll, the Irishman having recovered from the back of the grid after his involvement in the first corner incident in race one.

While the Racing Engineering car continued to bunch the group up, the moves for position within became ever more frantic, with Piccione and Piquet making contact more than once as the Monegasque struggled to spot his Brazilian rival's braking point into turn one. Jani appeared to be struggling for grip, frequently locking up into the Dunlop hairpin, but somehow maintaining his position at the head of the pack, despite concerted efforts from Piquet, Piccione and Rosberg.

Piccione was shuffled back to fourth after running wide while challenging Piquet on lap 18, Rosberg sliding up the inside, before then jumping Piquet around the outside of the final corner to move into second. Piccione then took advantage of Piquet's loss of momentum to finally pass the Brazilian into turn one, and leaving the reigning British F3 champion to fend off the renewed attention of Pantano and Carroll.

Rosberg, too, was still on the move, attempting to pass Jani for the lead at the final chicane at the end of the lap. The German, however, couldn't quite make the second part of the corner, cutting across the infield, before sportingly allowing Jani to retake the advantage. Piccione, however, was quick to spot the opportunity afforded by the ART Grand Prix driver's generosity, squeezing inside Rosberg to assume second place.

That then left the Monegasque in prime position to take advantage of Jani's increasingly worn tyres, jumping the Swiss driver between turns one and two to take over at the front. Jani refused to give up completely and, while the Durango driver began to disappear out front, provided a convenient buffer by keeping Piquet and Rosberg - who took a look at Dunlop - at bay.

Indeed, the German's move for second saw him shuffled back to sixth, as Carroll, Piquet and Pantano all slipped through, and the Irishman then quickly demoted Jani between Bit-Kurve and the chicane next time around. His tyres now rooted, Jani provided little resistance when Piquet, Rosberg and Pantano all filed through before turn one on lap 22, eventually pitting with a severely worn front left Bridgestone, his race over.

With just two laps left, Piccione was too far ahead to be troubled by those giving chase, but the battle for second was far from over, contributing to the Durango driver's cushion. Carroll held sway, but Piquet and Rosberg were both determined to separate him from the runners-up spot if possible, only deciding that discretion ought to be the better part of valour on the final tour. Pantano, meanwhile, saw his ill-luck return, finding Sergio Hernandez's progress on to the back of the group irresistible as the Campos Racing driver stole the points for fifth. Incredibly, Durango's day was completed when Ferdinando Monfardini claimed the final point on the last lap.

Piccione, meanwhile, was away and gone, already waving in celebration on his slowing down lap. The scrap behind him had allowed his lead to extend to almost seven seconds by the flag, the Monegasque becoming the fifth different winner in seven races, despite only having opened his points account on Saturday afternoon. Durango, too, finally got its season up and running, jumping from the only pointless team before the meeting to race winner and comfortable points table battler.

The race should have been Bruni's but, in the lottery that GP2 currently resembles, who better than the man from Casino Square to take the honours.



Loading Comments...