Nancy Knapp Schilke, GP2 Correspondent
Luiz Razia turned the heat up on the final lap of the GP2 Series Sprint Race on the Valencia Street Circuit to take the victory on Sunday morning. It was a surprise to the two fighting for the win when Arden’s Brazilian sailed past them.
A smiling Razia said, “This one is the most exciting race I ever had in my life! I'm really proud of the team, who pushed really, really hard during the four weeks off, and I'm proud that we could have two podiums this weekend: this is really marvellous!”
I did the right moves, and that was awesome!
James Calado and Fabio Leimer were in full concentration as the two rivals both aiming for the win in the second race of the weekend in Spain. However, they were using up their tyres while Razia saved his Pirelli’s for the final laps.
Calado started from the pole position, and after losing what was a sure victory in the Feature race yesterday, he took the early lead when the lights went out. Nathanael Berthon followed the Lotus GP to hold second. It did not take long for Marcus Ericsson to start his attack on the Frenchman.
At the same time of the Ericsson challenge to Racing Engineering’s Berthon, another battle was taking place between Rio Haryanto and his own Carlin teammate, Max Chilton for track position. With the pack tightly bunched at the start, it only two one mistake to cause chaos.
Ericsson’s challenge for position ended up with the Safety Car being dispatched. The Swede carried a lot of speed into the second turn and had nowhere to go, the iSport international driver hit the barrier and the ensuring cars came to a near halt. Included in the melee were Esteban Gutierrez, Stefano Coletti and Davide Valsecchi. Out of the four, only the DAMS Frenchman was able to continue.
When the race resumed, the Briton was in the followed by Haryanto, Chilton, Leimer, Berthon and Giedo van der Garde. However, Berthon decided to overtake his teammate Leimer, and that opened the door for van der Garde to move make an attempt to overtake the two Racing Engineering drivers. The Caterham Racing Dutchman had to forgo the battle as the second caution period brought the Safety Car.
Jolyon Palmer stuck his iSport nose in the rear of Johnny Cecotto spinning the Addax car and also himself out of the race.
Two laps later, the green flag signaled the start of returning to the battle field. Again, Calado had a perfect start and was able to open up a gap to his chasers. That is when the winning Brazilian set himself up for the finish with a steady climb to the top, but it did not appear that he would make it as the top five were pulling away.
By now the GP2 drivers and their fans know to always expect the unexpected. Haryanto sped up to put the pressure on the race leader but Calado was determined to keep the Indonesian at bay. On lap 19, the battle was resolved when at the chicane when the expected contact was made. The Briton kept his lead while Haryanto lost his front wing. Unfortunately his wing landed in front of his teammate, and Chilton had to slow down. Leimer found himself in second.
That was near the time that Razia decided to pick up his speed, and his first mark was van der Garde, then one lap later, he overtook Chilton. At the same time, Berthon realized that the Dutchman’s tyres wear was slowing him down and he moved into fifth.
Calado and Leimer were in their own world for the victory, and neither noticed the steady movement of Razia. On the final lap, Leimer saw his chance braked late entering the chicane, and the Briton had the same plan but things did not work out as plan as they both went too deep. The Swiss racer nearly had the top spot, but Calado was able to keep his nose out in front.
Neither of them saw Razia until it was too late. The Brazilian made his move at the hairpin! “I'm just happy that we had the right strategy, and the right overtaking as well: I didn't lose much time overtaking people, I did the right moves, and that was awesome!” Razia said.
Calado ended up second after a near perfect run for the gold. Leimer took the final podium placement followed by Chilton, Berthon and van der Garde.
The Briton commented, “I just ran out of tyres! Yesterday, I don't know if you know, we started on new tyres which were normally race two's tyres, so they were used when I started. Not as good a start, because there was not as much traction, but I tried to save them as much as possible: we just ran out, because there were too many laps, and even though I was saving them there wasn't enough tyre on the car left at the finish of the race. Towards the end I was losing traction, and couldn't enter or brake or anything. It was very, very tough, and very entertaining I'm sure [laughs], but still it was good to get some more points.”
Rounding out the top 10 were Simon Trummer (Arden), Julian Leal (Trident Racing), Daniel De Jong (Rapax), and Valsecchi, who still holds the points lead. Razia is now just one point behind the Frenchman (141 to 140), Calado now has 95 points followed by Chilton with 93, and van der Garde with 89. The series will next race at Silverstone on the weekend of July 8th.