GP2

Kovalainen achieves the first victory in Imola

Kovalainen achieves the first victory in Imola

The Finn Heikki Kovalainen claimed the victory today in the first race in Formula GP2 series history, disputed at the Imola circuit. Kovalainen was followed on the podium by José María López and Scott Speed. Race winner Heikki ...

The Finn Heikki Kovalainen claimed the victory today in the first race in Formula GP2 series history, disputed at the Imola circuit. Kovalainen was followed on the podium by Jos? Mar?a L?pez and Scott Speed.

Race winner Heikki Kovalainen celebrates.
Photo by GP2 Series Media Service.
Kovalainen, driving for Arden International, started the competition from fifth place, although he advanced one place before the start with his teammate's problem: polesitter Nicolas Lapierre had an engine failure and couldn't even start the race.

In the green lights of the GP2 series, the reliability of the new cars was a question mark after the problems on Friday and the series passed the exam, although there`s a lot of work to do.

The winner suffered, as many others, brake problems during the race. "I had to be conservative with brakes and just take it easy under braking, especially when behind other cars. When there's no clean air the pedal goes to the floor, so I had to pump, pump, pump all the time and try to get some pressure in", commented Kovalainen about the issue.

Kovalainen, 2004 World Series Nissan champion, caught the leadership two laps before the chequered flag, when the leader, Giorgio Pantano, retired with the car of Super Nova.

The strategy of Arden in the pits paid off, as the first GP2 winner analyzes it: "I knew I was on the pace. It was just a matter of playing correct with the pit stops, and not making any mistakes. I was behind Giorgio Pantano but I couldn't get past, and that's why we decided to make the second stop earlier. I was stuck behind Adam Carroll, and eventually when he went into the pits I had a few laps on my own. The stops made it more interesting, and it gives you the option to do something different compared to the leading guys", mentioned the Finn.

Second finisher, L?pez, was at the doors of the victory, but suffered the attack of Kovalainen in the end. "It is a great result. I really thought I wouldn`t arrive to the finish line due to the breaks problems that appeared again today", stated the former F3000 driver.

The Argentinian initiated the race from third place, which became into second with Lapierre`s retirement. L?pez was on second, but he wasn`t able to fight against Pantano, who built in important gap. However when the Italian`s problems seemed to give L?pez the chance to win the inaugural race, Kovalainen made his move leaving L?pez on second place at the end.

The DAMS team driver finished the race with cramps and back pain due to the extra work he did with the brakes to keep the car n the track. So second is not bad after all.

North American driver, Scott Speed, took an important podium after he started the competition from sixth place in the grid.

The iSport International driver, who carries number one in his car, had a race from less to more at Imola. Speed, who tested the F1 Red Bull a couple of weeks ago, drove a clean and smooth race and took advantage from others problems to finish in the top three.

Top eight places were completed by Gianmaria Bruni (Coloni Motorsport); Adam Carroll (Super Nova); Neel Jani (Racing Engineering); Alexandre Premat (ART Gran Prix) and Nico Rosberg (ART Grand Prix).

Tomorrow`s race will be a sprint of 17 laps with the starting grid as the points scorers positions reversed. From ninth, the places will be as they finished today.

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