Stéphane Richelmi is now a winner in GP2 and even better, a winner at Monaco.
Stéphane Richelmi has claimed his maiden win in the best way possible, fighting all the way to the end in this afternoon’s sprint race for a lights to flag win in Monte Carlo ahead of Sergio Canamasas and Rio Haryanto.
The victory was set up at the start, when the local man made a strong start from pole to hold position: Haryanto had an equally good start to ride side by side with Richelmi to Ste Devote, but two into one won’t go and the Indonesian driver had to give way, allowing Canamasas to take advantage of his storming start to slide inside and into P2.
Teammate Johnny Cecotto was immediately filling the mirrors of the Caterham driver, allowing the Spaniard to focus all of his attention ahead, while behind them the rest of the field was shaking out, with Tio Ellinas touching the wall at Massenet and losing his front wing, while a front right puncture put Felipe Nasr out of the race at the Mirabeau.
The lead pair engaged in a race long battle, spending most of the race within 0.5 of each other as they threw everything they had at each other for the prestigious win while pulling away from the rest of their rivals: a safety car period to remove Artem Markelov’s broken car at Beau Rivage merely slowed them briefly before battle recommenced and the pulled away once more.
Behind them, however, Cecotto was paying for his early pressure as he dropped into the clutches of his rivals behind: a huge train of drivers formed behind the Venezuelan, who was simply concentrating on staying ahead of them. When the chequered flag dropped Richelmi punched the air with joy, having fulfilled a lifelong dream of winning a race at his home circuit, while Canamasas put in a super drive for P2 with Haryanto 6 seconds back to round out the podium.
Somehow Cecotto managed to hold on for 4th, a superb performance to hold off a clearly faster Arthur Pic, with Mitch Evans, Jolyon Palmer and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs crossing the line nose to tail behind them to round out the points positions, just ahead of fellow local Stefano Coletti and Conor Daly.
Palmer’s win yesterday saw his lead in the drivers’ championship extend over Nasr, 103 points to 57, with Cecotto on 49 points Julian Leal on 47, Pic on 40 and Richelmi’s win pushing his points up to 32. His DAMS team has also extended their lead in the teams’ championship over Carlin, 135 points to 105, with Trident solidifying third place on 71 points ahead of Campos Racing on 40 points and ART Grand Prix on 33 ahead of the next round at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.