F2

Soucek scores season's fifth win at Imola

This weekend has certainly belonged to Andy Soucek at Imola, as the young Spaniard clinched the Formula Two championship in the weekend's first race yesterday, and followed it up today with a victory, his fifth of the season. Soucek has now stood...

This weekend has certainly belonged to Andy Soucek at Imola, as the young Spaniard clinched the Formula Two championship in the weekend's first race yesterday, and followed it up today with a victory, his fifth of the season. Soucek has now stood on the podium after nine of the fourteen races in a hallmark of both performance and consistency. In contrast, none of his challengers have reached the podium more than four times in that span.

The second-place man in the championship, Robert Wickens, scored his third pole position of the season this morning for the afternoon's race, with his Red Bull teammate Mirko Bortolotti next to him, but the two were not able to hold off Soucek's charge off the line and into the first corner.

"I got a good start," Soucek recalled. "It was a bit dangerous because I was in the middle of the Red Bull cars and I was a bit uncomfortable, but I managed to squeeze up the inside. From then on I just pushed really hard to improve my lap times, I was very consistent and quick. Another victory, now five wins and eight podiums -- I can't really expect more. Today I really wanted it to be good, and I'm very proud."

The start was certainly eventful, with Wickens slow off the line and Mikhail Aleshin, in the third Red Bull car, bursting through from sixth on the grid as well into fourth by the first corner.

Aleshin got too eager into Tamburello, though, and while he was able   .
to make his way around Wickens, he carried too much speed into the     .
chicane, and spun out on the exit Jens Hoing was unable to avoid the   .
Russian and the two made heavy contact As the safety car came out,     .
Pietro Gandolfi failed to slow down for it, and ran into the back of   .
Natcha Gachnang's car, taking both of them out of the race as well     .

Worse, as the safety car pulled off into the pits, Mirko Bortolotti's engine decided to take a break as well, and the Italian slowed to retire from his home race. Alas, Alex Brundle, Julien Jousse and Jack Clarke all piled in, taking the first two out of the race, and Clarke dropping to the back of the field.

At the front, then, Soucek and Wickens motored off into the distance, with the Canadian staying in sight but unable to get close enough to Soucek to apply pressure. At the finish Soucek's lead was 2.407 seconds, with Wickens a further 7.505 seconds ahead of third-placed Milos Pavlovic. Pavlovic's race was a lonely one, as he held an advantage of over eight seconds over Tobias Hegewald.

"It's a relief to be back on the podium," said Pavlovic. "Racing is all about confidence, so if you start having problems you start losing ground. This weekend I qualified well, and it's nice to be back in the top three."

Carlos Iaconelli and Jolyon Palmer completed the top six, with jason Moore and GermanSanchez claiming the final championship points.

With Soucek crowned as the series champion yesterday, the battle remains for the second place in the championship as the series heads to Barcelona for the season finale intwo weeks' time. Wickens, who started the season with two victories in Valencia, holds a nine-point edge on Aleshin, and Bortolotti is a further two points back.

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Series F2
Drivers Robert Wickens , Julien Jousse , Mikhail Aleshin , Carlos Iaconelli , Tobias Hegewald , Andy Soucek , Jack Clarke , Jens Hoing , Mirko Bortolotti , Alex Brundle , Pietro Gandolfi , Jolyon Palmer