The third race of the second round of the newly born GP2 Asia series should have started with a win for Qi-Meritus.Mahara. After ten points taken at the first Dubai round, Luca Filippi the recently appointed Honda Formula One test driver took the...
The third race of the second round of the newly born GP2 Asia series should have started with a win for Qi-Meritus.Mahara. After ten points taken at the first Dubai round, Luca Filippi the recently appointed Honda Formula One test driver took the first ever win of the team in the series and doubled the team's capital. Weather conditions had improved from the morning qualifying. However, the weather was threatening from start of the race.
Two different race strategies for the two Qi-Meritus.Mahara drivers led to a good result for the team's third race. Although unplanned, Filippi opted for an early pit stop that made his team-mate Hiroki YOSHIMOTO (car No 26). Both drivers had a good start with Filippi keeping his second place behind pole man A. Valles and Hiroki YOSHIMOTO dashed from 13th position in ninth place.
In the third lap the safety car came out after an incident between several cars. Hiroki Yoshimoto maintained position running second behind Bruno Senna during the first half of the race, while Luca Filippi had an early pit strategy. The safety car period lasted till lap 13. The race resumed with Bruno Senna ahead of Hiroki YOSHIMOTO in second position. After Diego Nunes' (DPR) accident, the safety car was out for a second period. On lap 23 the safety car came back in. Luca Filippi the recently appointed Honda Formula One test driver resisted an attack from Sebastien Buemi and confirmed his position at the top of the sheet.
Lap 25 was the key turning point of the race. Luca Filippi was running in third place while Bruno Senna and Hiroki YOSHIMOTO who had not made their compulsory pit stop were still ahead of him and technically Luca Filippi had become the man in charge of the race.
As the two cars preceding him came in for their pit stop, Filippi took the lead in the race with Buemi, Valles, Hanley, Grosjean, Vitaly Petrov (Campos Grand Prix), Bruno Senna and Pavolivic.
Yoshimoto rejoined in ninth position, but the end of the race was hard on him because he was inflicted a stop-and-go penalty and finally came into the pits after faulty brakes led him to three different unplanned excursions in the gravel. On lap 33 he decided to get back to the pits to retire. Luca Filippi continued a trouble free race and held out to the checkered flag against a new attack by Sebastien Buemi.
Luca FILIPPI (car No 27): "I am fantastically happy. Of course, I am surprised to win here on a new track with a new team. I want to thank the public in Sentul for their great support to the only truly Asian team in the paddock, and I feel really happy. I had a good start and I had a fight with Valles. However, I managed to keep my second place from the start. I had an early pit stop. The safety car periods disrupted the race on two occasions. But I cannot complain. Overall I had a good race. I took the lead on lap 25 and this was the key to the race. My pace was good all the way. The car was working well. I was lapping consistently in 1.17.343. Overall, with the team, we have done a great job to prepare the races. I qualified second this morning. The main thing is that we established that the car is quick for the races. Ten more points is fantastic for our team start. Because of the reversed grid tomorrow, I will leave in eighth position. I'll try to make a good and aggressive start tomorrow. We are progressing from race to race, and this is the main thing."
Hiroki YOSHIMOTO (car Nr 26): "After a good start, I was able to jump from 13th to 9th place. When I saw that Luca Filippi was coming in for an early pit stop, I decided to stay out not to stress the mechanics. It was a strange race behind the pace car. The car was doing well. I pushed hard in front. I was trying to make a gap. However, there was a second safety car that ruined the strategy. Later, I stayed out as long as I could and was hoping for the rain to be able to change tires only once. I had to go through a drive-thru penalty as I was following Bruno Senna who passed a safety car. I believe very much that the lay out of the track is such that no car could see that the safety car was there. Then I started to feel that the brakes were loose. I went off three times and decided to come in as it was too dangerous. I clocked one of the fastest laps in 1.16.374 on lap 25. However, when I stepped from my car, I could not believe the state of the car. Stones and gravel from the track have made big holes everywhere on the chassis, the mirrors and even my helmet. I have never seen a car in such a state. What a tough track!."
Raad S. ABDULJAWAD, Team Chairman Qi-Meritus.Mahara --"To finish on the podium for our third race is the result of very hard work for the team and I want to thank them all for this achievement."
Peter THOMPSON, president and team founder, Qi-Meritus.Mahara: "I have been looking forward to our first ever podium. I did not expect a win for the team so quickly. It is simply fantastic to win on our second event. The team went beyond the set goal. These ten points feel good."