Valles wins at last!
Always up there with the leaders since the start of the season, Adrian Valles (Pons Racing) finally took his first win of the season here today in an impressive solo effort. He was joined on the rostrum by Christian Montanari (Draco Multiracing USA) and Robert Kubica (Epsilon Euskadi) after a fine battle for second.
From the start, Adrian Valles was not going to be intimidated by Jaap Van Lagen, who came off by far the worse out of the opening bend. Christian Montanari moved up into second as a result while Kubica managed to hold onto third ahead of Van Lagen.
Milos Pavlovic (GD Racing) and Will Power (Carlin Motorsport) came into contact on lap one, meaning the safety car had to be called out. After starting from the back of the grid, Tristan Gommendy was forced to come into the pits. The French driver was only to rejoin the race in the final stages to take the fastest lap.
The safety car peeled off after only one lap and the eight leading cars opened up a significant gap over the rest of the field. Valles, Montanari, Kubica and Van Lagen were followed by Pastor Maldonado (Dams), Felix Porteiro (Epsilon Euskadi), Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA) and Alx Danielsson (Dams).
Eric Salignon (Cram Competition) and Andreas Zuber (Carlin Motorsport) then both pitted in quick succession. Zuber also had to serve a drive through penalty for a jump start.
Valles was quick to extend his lead over Montanari by improving on his fastest lap every time he crossed the line. Ryo Fukuda (DHG Saulnier Racing) was the next to abandon after crashing out violently into the tyre wall.
Felix Porteiro then passed Pastor Maldonado to move up into 5th. It was not yet clear why but the reason was soon to become apparent as Maldonado came into the pits to abandon. In any case, Porteiro soon lost his 5th place to Winkelhock.
Approaching the midpoint of the race, Christian Montanari and Robert Kubica were locked in battle for second. The Pole was quicker through the twisty sections of the circuit, but the man from San-Marino managed to hold onto his lead in the faster bends. This allowed Jaap Van Lagen to pull back up to them little-by-little.
And it wasn't the only battle going on in the field with Tomas Kostka (Victory Engineering) and Simon Pagenaud (DHG Saulnier Racing) fighting it out over 8th. But Kostka was unable to make it to the finish line, allowing Fabio Carbone (Eurointernational) to make it into the top 10 in his first race.
With just three laps left, there was still all to play for as Montanari started to come under pressure from Kubica and Van Lagen! Fernando Rees (Interwetten.com) then abandoned, as did Damien Pasini (Cram Competition) after an engine failure. Ivan Bellarosa (Avelon Formula) and Daniel La Rosa (Interwetten.com) also collided and threw in the towel.
Adrian Valles: "My start wasn't very good but I was very late on the brakes and managed to keep my lead. I then simply tried to set a good pace without paying too much attention to what was going on in my mirrors."
Christian Montanari: "I went through a bit of a bad patch after Monaco but I'm happy to be back on the podium. Adrian was very quick here today."
Robert Kubica: "I didn't try to attack Christian in the opening laps. I was waiting for him to make a mistake but he didn't. I didn't want to attempt the impossible as I needed the Championship points."