Adrien Tambay was first under Race 1 checkered flag in Imola. It was an unexpected result, clinched thanks to a great drive and maybe a bit blessed by fate, given the huge number of connections: Adrien Tambay wins on the same track where, 27 years...
Adrien Tambay was first under Race 1 checkered flag in Imola. It was an unexpected result, clinched thanks to a great drive and maybe a bit blessed by fate, given the huge number of connections: Adrien Tambay wins on the same track where, 27 years ago, his father Patrick won an F.1 GP with a #27 Ferrari car; and if this isn't enough, 27 is also the number of the box in which the Charouz-Gravity Racing cars are parked.
The first straight was enough to realize that the Imola race was going to be an eventful one: Pantano's start was better than Tambay's, and the Italian driver immediately started to put pressure on the poleman. At the first corner, the Tamburello chicane, Filippi made a mistake and went through the gravel trap, cutting the corner. He emerged still ahead, but with dirt tyres he was an easy pray for Pantano and had to look in the mirrors to block Tambay, followed by Duncan Tappy, Onidi, Piscopo, Crestani, Grubmuller and Charouz, with the Czech forced to retire on lap 2 due to a gearbox problem. Coletti, who was 5th on the grid, did a bad start and closed the first lap in P14.
Struggling with ruined tyres, Filippi tried the same strategy used in Brno, stopping on lap 4. Anyway, the Euronova driver restart was delayed due to other cars passing in the pitlane, something that costed him some precious seconds. Despite this, after Pantano's pit stop on 6th lap the Euronova driver was so close to his opponent that he tried an attack in the Tamburello chicane, unfortunately going off track again. Filippi was able to rejoin, and kept the pressure on Pantano very high, with Adrien Tambay taking full advantage from this. The frenchman drove some very fast and neat laps when he had a clear track in front of him, and after his mandatory pit-stop he was able to rejoin just in front of the italian duo.
From then on, Tambay mantained the lead, keeping Pantano at bay with a strong and steady pace: behind him, the Pantano-Filippi show went on. On lap 9, Luca overtook the SuperNova driver, but Pantano passed again at the Tamburello braking zone. Filippi tried again at the Variante Alta but he jumped too hard on the kerbs and a slow exit meant that Pantano easily got through again. In the meantime, the race lead was swapped lap after lap among the drivers who still hadn't done their pit-stop. Fabrizio Crestani was one of them, but with three laps to go Iaconelli crashed into him with the Durango car. Then it was time to lead for the RP boys, with Stefano Bizzarri pitting with two laps to go just to hand the first spot to his team mate Celso Miguez, who changed tyres on the penultimate lap. The RP Motorsport strategy worked well because Miguez clinched eight place, taking one point, and Bizzarri recovered to P10. Also Julian Leal was driving a good race: the Trident driver was just behind Jonny Reid, good fifth in the end, when he spun in the Rivazza gravel trap to try a daring pass. So Iaconelli was sixth, ahead of a tough Coletti, 7th despite the mistake at the race start.
In front, the result was decided in the very last laps. Filippi threw away all hopes when he went off on lap 14 while trying another move on Pantano. The SuperNova driver was next: on the last lap, he touched the grass with the right rear tyre while braking for Tamburello, and he spun, retiring from the race. Doing this, he handed 2nd place and the championship lead to Piscopo, the DAMS driver taking 8 points after a very consistent race, and the last step of the podium to Fabio Onidi, who held off a charging Duncan Tappy in the last laps.
Adrien Tambay: "It's a great feeling! The best moment was when I rejoined after the pit-stop and I realized I was in front, meaning that half of the job was done! I have to say thanks to all the other drivers, the start was action-packed but everybody was fair. In the final laps I was just managing the race and the brakes, so I didn't feel a lot of pressure from Pantano. Anyway, I'm really sorry for Giorgio, his race was great and he deserved podium".
Edoardo Piscopo: "I drove not just with steering and throttle, but also with my head. I'm happy because the car was good, not staggering fast but balanced and very consistent, so I opted for a cautious approach. The others gave me some help with mistakes, and now I'm leading the series which isn't bad at all".
Fabio Onidi: "My start was good and I was immediately fifth, sticking to the front pack. In the first laps I had the pace to attack Piscopo, but in Imola passing is very difficult, so I preferred to settle for fifth and see what was going to happen. Being cautious was the right decision, I'm really happy about this unexpected podium".