When yesterday Ernesto Viso was penalized, things looked up for Olivier Pla. This change meant that he would start today's sprint race in Hockenheim on pole position, instead of the ninth place, given GP2's rules for the second race. The...
When yesterday Ernesto Viso was penalized, things looked up for Olivier Pla. This change meant that he would start today's sprint race in Hockenheim on pole position, instead of the ninth place, given GP2's rules for the second race.
The Frenchman took good advantage of this situation to win for the second time in the series; the first was in Silverstone two weeks ago, also in the second race.
The DPR team driver looked strong from the start of the competition and ran comfortably to the victory. "I had a good start and was able to pull a gap on Pantano, so the race was much easier than Silverstone, because in Silverstone we had a problem with the degradation of the tyres and I really struggled with them there. Now I could be really, really consistent -- my team and my engineers did a really good job on set up, and I have nothing to say except that the car was perfect", commented the winner.
Pla's pace during the race allowed him to arrive at the finish with a gap of over seven seconds over his pursuers, Giorgio Pantano, Scott Speed and Nico Rosberg.
"I pushed really hard on the first lap and then kept going, and at the end I slowed down a bit, but I could have done even more -- I could have increased the gap a bit, but there was no reason to do it", Pla said.
With today's second victory in GP2, Pla has joined, alongside championship contenders Heikki Kovalainen and Rosberg, a select group of drivers that repeated victories this season.
Behind Pla's leadership, the fight for the podium was fiery from the beginning. Italian Pantano struggled to get his second podium in the series after the one took also in Germany, in Nurburgring round.
"I'm quite satisfied about the race, and also the weekend -- I think we did quite a good job with the car and with the set up, but we still need to work, to improve", mentioned the Super Nova men.
Pantano explained the battle with Speed in the last part of the competition: "The race was quite tough today, especially the last ten laps, because a few times Scott was trying to overtake me and was pushing me quite hard, but I was managing the situation because I wanted to keep the second".
After two times second and one pole position, Pantano will try in the last part of the season to get his victory in GP2. "I think we can go to Hungary with some idea of how to keep the car in a better balance. I think we're therelace, and we are there", he said.
Speed had another strong race from sixth place in the grid to third with a hard fight in the middle and repeated yesterday's podium.
The iSport driver put pressure on Pantano's position to get second but he was unable to pass the Italian. "He made a mistake in the hairpin and Rosberg and I were there and we both tried to capitalize on it -- it was quite sketchy for all of us, and it was quite exciting", Speed stated.
Speed added today his second podium of the weekend and the fifth in the series, and the American expects more for the coming races. "We're chipping away at the car and we're learning stuff, so it's good with us going to Hungary.
The championship has been getting much more interesting in the last few races with Rosberg cutting the gap against Kovalainen.
The Finn had a poor weekend with only fifth and sixth places to show for his efforts: until Hockenheim, Monaco had been the only race weekend in which Kovalainen didn't reach the podium.
Kovalainen leads with 68 points and it's near followed by Rosberg with 63. Speed still in good position with 50, while Adam Carroll, 34; Gianmaria Bruni, 33 and Alexander Premat with 32 completes top six.
ART Grand Prix took the first place yesterday in the Teams Championship and has 95 points, with Arden, 81, in second. Third place is tie between Super Nova and iSport, both with 52.
The GP2 action will now move on July 30th and 31st to the twisty Hungaroring in Hungary where Rosberg will try to steal from Kovalainen the lead. Time will tell.