Imola: Inaugural race one report

Kovalainen wins GP2 series opener Arden International's Heikki Kovalainen took a fantastic victory in the first ever GP2 series race, toady. The Finn drove strongly and took the lead with just two laps to go. He was followed home by Jose Maria...

Kovalainen wins GP2 series opener

Arden International's Heikki Kovalainen took a fantastic victory in the first ever GP2 series race, toady. The Finn drove strongly and took the lead with just two laps to go. He was followed home by Jose Maria Lopez (DAMS) and Scott Speed (iSport International.) The top eight was rounded out by Gianmaria Bruni, Adam Carroll, Neel Jani, Alexandre Prémat and Nico Rosberg. Ernesto Viso (BCN Competicion) set the fastest lap and picked up two valuable points.

The race itself was an intense battle of tactics, which saw every team on highly varied strategies. While many opted to get both out of the way early, some left it as late as possible. This resulted in a thrilling climax, as with just 10 laps to go the scene was set for an enthralling run to the chequered flag.

Super Nova International's Giorgio Pantano had dominated much of the race, leading from the rolling start after pole-sitter Nicolas Lapierre failed to make it to the grid. When all the pit stops panned out, however, Pantano was left in third, behind team-mate Adam Carroll and Kovalainen. With two laps remaining, Carroll was called into the pits for a penalty the result of breaking the pit lane speed limit on one of his two compulsory previous stops. And when Pantano retired on the same lap, the final results were set in place. Kovalainen, having driven a measured but aggressive 37 laps, came home the victor.

1st Heikki Kovalainen Arden International.37 laps.1:02:15.934

"It was not a fantastic day for me yesterday, but today went much better. I was quite confident coming into the race and it worked out very well for me. Viso was holding me up quite a lot but I got past him quickly which was critical. I caught Lopez quickly but was stuck behind him as well. We decided to go for the pit stop and I was able to get into clean air and run in some quick laps. I caught up with Adam Carroll, and again he was holding me up and I couldn't get past. That's part of the game, but eventually he got pulled into the pits. I probably wouldn't have got past him to be honest, but I won anyway. That's motor racing, I guess."

2nd Jose Maria Lopez DAMS.37 laps. + 6.802

"This is great! I just wanted to score some points and I've scored eight! We were driving on a difficult circuit in difficult conditions, and I'm very happy. I'm very proud, of myself and the team, because we had some problems yesterday in practice and couldn't do many laps. We didn't know if we were competitive and we were worried. But after qualifying we knew we were ok. In the race it was just important to finish. So I kept cool, tried to finish, and I finished second."

3rd Scott Speed iSport International.37 laps +17.742

"It's good to start with a podium. For me it was just about getting the car to the finish. I had the same problems as the other guys, so I just tried to get to the finish and get some points. It was really difficult to push hard, from lap two onwards. I think our race strategy worked well. I'll be starting in the same position tomorrow as I did today, so the target remains the same. I'm just going to try and get some more points."

-gp2-

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Gianmaria Bruni , Giorgio Pantano , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Adam Carroll , Neel Jani , Nicolas Lapierre , Alexandre Prémat , Jose Maria Lopez
Teams DAMS , Arden International