Briton dominates sprint race
Jolyon Palmer has claimed his maiden GP2 victory with a storming drive in this afternoon's sprint race in Monaco, jumping the front row as the lights went out to lead all the way to the chequered flag ahead of countryman Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde.
The win was set up at the start when the Englishman got a stunning launch to blast past poleman Stéphane Richelmi from P3 into a lead that would not be threatened again. The Monegasque driver was forced to give way before Ste Devote but left fellow front row starter James Calado nowhere to go but into the back of the Trident car, putting Richelmi out on the spot and damaging his own front wing into the bargain.
And there was more drama to come: yesterday's winner Johnny Cecotto lost the rear and spun at Casino Square, causing mayhem for the remainder of the field as he tagged Davide Valsecchi (who almost stalled at the start but limped off the line well back down the grid), while Felipe Nasr rode over the top of Victor Guerin causing the other drivers around to come together.
There was no choice but to call out the safety car, and the field was ten cars lighter next time by the pits. The marshals quickly removed the debris and the race went live again on lap four, with race leader Palmer making a smooth restart to leave Calado behind, with Chilton and van der Garde on his tail.
Calado's damage was clearly holding him up, along with the train of drivers behind him, and it was only a few laps before he was shown the black and orange flag to come in and change his front wing, but in that time Palmer built up a ten second cushion to nearest rival Chilton, with twenty laps remaining.
Chilton threw everything he had at the job, and the timesheets told the tale of his endeavours as he pulled the gap down to just one second at the chequered flag, but Palmer looked to have everything well under his control as he claimed the victory to applause all round the circuit.
Van der Garde had another strong race to take his second podium of the weekend, and his fourth consecutive top three finish, while Marcus Ericsson rounded out a great weekend for his iSport team by claiming fourth place. Rodolfo Gonzalez held on against race long pressure from Luiz Razia for fifth, with the Brazilian claiming the fastest lap on his last trip round in sixth, while Nathanael Berthon and Esteban Gutierrez closed out the final points positions.
In the championship Valsecchi sails on in the lead despite his dramas today on 141 points, with Luiz Razia closing the gap on 110, while van der Garde moves up to third on 85 points ahead of Chilton on 79, Calado on 75, and Gutierrez on 60 points. In the teams' title run DAMS stays out in from Lotus GP 169 points to 135, with Arden on 111, Carlin on 95 and Caterham moving up to 91 points ahead of the Valencia weekend in three weeks time.