Heikki Kovalainen took his first win of the season at Laustiz yesterday after a strong weekend that put behind him the disappointments of Monza. After topping the times in the second and third practices, Kovalainen went on to beat Gabord teammate Franck Montagny to pole position in both qualifying sessions.
The Finn said it had been important to get a good result in qualifying: "I didn't approach it any differently," he told Motorsport.com. "I just think we improved the car for the qualifying, so I was able to push on new tyres. The races are never a problem, and never have been, so it was only matter of qualifying well."
In the first race Kovalainen was beaten to the win by Montagny, finishing second ahead of Stephane Sarrazin. "I lost it in the start, I was on the dirtier side (of the track) and even if my start was good there was not enough grip to get to the first corner ahead," he said.
The second race, Kovalainen got the start right -- so right that officials thought he had jumped it. He was given a penalty but the team didn't know and consequently, for failing to serve a penalty he didn't know he had been given, Kovalainen was black-flagged. However, not realising what had happened, Gabord didn't notice the black flag either and Heikki went on to win.
After the confusion was sorted out, it was decided Kovalainen had not jumped the start, so the penalty was non-existent and the result stands -- although he will have to pay a fine for ignoring the black flag.
"I won't be penalized as the stewards decided I didn't jump the start," Heikki explained. "And the team wasn't informed about anything during the race as the jump start never took the place in stewards opinion. I will be fined for ignoring the flag but it would have been completely wrong if I had got the penalty."
While the confusion was going on behind the scenes, Kovalainen did the business on track: "It went very well from the start to the end," he said of the second race. "I had no problems what so ever and was able to control the race easily. The car was very good in the races."
Kovalainen has had some bad luck this year but now he's hoping the rest of the season will bring more victories. "The win was a very good thing after the dramas in Monza," he said. "I needed to get back up there on the top and the poles were great and the win in the longer race was a bonus."
"I'm looking forward to more wins, and hopefully I went through all the bad times in the beginning of the year and we could finish the championship strongly."