Nicolas Lapierre finally broke through to take a GP2 Series victory in his 41st race in the series, winning the second race of the Bahrain race weekend for DAMS by 3.183 seconds over Timo Glock. Lapierre, who won the A1GP championship for France...
Nicolas Lapierre finally broke through to take a GP2 Series victory in his 41st race in the series, winning the second race of the Bahrain race weekend for DAMS by 3.183 seconds over Timo Glock.
Lapierre, who won the A1GP championship for France with DAMS, was ebullient, celebrating a long-overdue victory for both himself and the team; DAMS had not won a race since May 2005 when Jose Maria Lopez took race 2 victory in Barcelona for the team. Lapierre himself had driven two winless GP2 seasons with Arden.
"I won the A1 with (DAMS) before, I have a lot of confidence in them and I know they can do a good job," Lapierre explained. They are one of the top teams I think, and last year they had a very difficult season, but the guys here are very good and I'm sure that for this year we will do a very good job. We have done a lot of good things together, so they trust me 100% and I trust them 100%."
"It is different, very different," he continued. "I think Arden did a good job yesterday as well, and they are a very strong team, but I think I fit in here much more than in Arden."
Lapierre had a front-row starting position -- due to his seventh-place finish in yesterday's first race and the inversion of the top eight for the second race -- and he made sure to take advantage of that.
While he couldn't win the sprint to the first corner, he jumped past polesitter Borja Garcia when the Spaniard ran wide in the fourth turn, and then controlled the pace of the race from the front. Two safety car periods bunched up the field behind him, but Lapierre's lead was never under serious threat.
Behind the two, there was contact at the start, though, as ART's Andreas Zuber ran into Lucas di Grassi's iSport car, causing a melee in the field, taking out the two belligerents as well as an innocent bystander in the form of DPR's Christian Bakkerud. Bruno Senna and Adrian Zaugg both made contact as well, but were able to continue after a quick pit stop for repairs.
What that fracas did do, though, was to open the door for Luca Filippi, who had started in eighth places thanks to his first-race victory. As the safety car headed the field to allow cleanup of the debris, Filippi was settled in third place behind Lapierre and Garcia. He was followd by Andy Soucek -- up from 1th on the grid -- Michael Ammermuller and Timo Glock.
However, Antonio Pizzonia then ran into Giorgio Pantano, and Kazuki Nakajima rammed the back of Ho-Pin Tung's car, further thinning out the field, as both Pizzonia and Tung were forced to abandon the race.
At the front, though, Filippi quickly took second from Garcia after the restart, and Glock made his way past Ammermuller, Soucek and then Garcia to lay claim to the final podium spot.
"I had a little problem with the brakes today because of the race yesterday, so I started out with new brakes," Garcia explained his early-race troubles. "For five laps the pedal was too long so in the first laps I was passed by Lapierre, Filippi and Glock, but in the middle of the race it was fine."
Ten laps into the race, Glock made the move on Filippi, whose rear tires were getting to be in poor shape. With no pit stop in the short second race, the Italian was now on the defensive, and, unlike yesterday, Glock had an undamaged car. There was no question here, and Glock easily took second place.
"I was feeling the rears going and I had a drop, and it was not possible to manage it," Filippi recounted. "I tried to push but it was just making it worse, and Glock was able to overtake me."
Glock set after Lapierre, and was able to cut the gap down to less than two seconds, but the German, too, had tire troubles, having cut one of his rear tires in avoiding the first-turn fracas.
"When I got into P2 I thought I could get pretty close to Nicolas," he recounted. "But then the rear tyre went down because I think I overstressed it in the opening laps. At the end I had to save it for the championship."
Glock pulled out a solid gap to Filippi, though, and the Italian was five seconds adrift at the finish. What might have been the outcome yesterday had Glock had not had damage to his car?
Garcia took home fourth place, and was followed home by Mike Conway, Nakajima, Ammermuller and Senna.
Filippi, with a win and a third place, holds a 16-14 points edge over Glock after the first race weekend, with Lapierre at 8 points and Zuber at 6. The series now takesa four-week break, returning to action in mid-May in Barcelona.