Rodriguez claims first GP2 win

The Spaniard scored maiden win in Shanghai Dams’ Kobayashi may have been the quickest man on track at the opening race of the GP2 Asia Series in China, but it was Roldan Rodriguez who claimed victory at the end of the 34 laps after the Japanese went too wide in the last stages of the event.

When  the  lights  went  off,  poleman  Rodriguez  made  a  good  start  and  kept  Kobayashi  at  bay. However, at the wheel of a very competitive Dams car, the Japanese ace soon put pressure on the Spaniard and took the lead at the end of the first lap. He then drove a clean and consistent race, signing best laptime, until Lap 29 when he went off the line in turn 1. Although he managed to continue, Rodriguez took the lead and crossed the finish line in first position, snatching his first GP2 win.

The race saw two safety cars, the first one after Sergio Perez stopped in the middle of the track. That’s  when  the  leaders  decided  to  pit,  Kobayashi  keeping  the  lead  even  after  the  restart.  The second  safety  car  was  deployed  after  an  impressive  Sekigushi  tried  to  overtake  Filippi. 

The Japanese and the Italian eventually came together and both men had to retire. After the track was cleared, Kobayashi managed to keep Rodriguez at bay and tried to extend the gap. He pushed a little too hard, almost lost control of his car and the Spaniard drove to victory. Behind  them,  Sakon  Yamamoto  enjoyed  his  first  GP2  podium,  signing  a  third  place  after  he overtook Villa on the first lap, but the best start of the race definitely goes to rookie Earl Bamber.

Starting from 9th, the young driver from New Zealand moved up to 6th and managed to keep the pace and finish at that same position. He was followed by another impressive rookie, Chris Van der Drift who benefited from a good strategy and a great driving style to start from 16th and end up in the points in 7th. The  fight  for  8th  place  was  something  of  true  GP2  style  with  four  drivers  fighting  for  it  and Valsecchi eventually landing the position. The Italian will start from pole position tomorrow on the reversed grid.

Roldan Rodriguez (Piquet GP): “I’m very happy! I pushed all the way and made no mistake. On the first lap, Kamui braked later than me. I saw him far from me and when I looked again he was on my side. I chose to let him through rather than close the door and maybe crash. We pitted at the  perfect  time:  the  team  made  a  great  job.  For  tomorrow,  I  will  start  8.  I  will  adopt  the  same strategy: do the best I can. Of course, I will try and go for a podium. I want to leave Shanghai as the leader of the GP2 Asia Series and go home with two trophees.”

Kamui Kobayashi (Dams): “It’s my fault. I made a mistake, I know it and it’s very frustrating. I had the fastest car, but with the safety car deployed twice, I had to push hard to try and extend the gap with Rodriguez. In the end, a second place is not a bad thing: it’s always good points, but I know I can win races and that’s my unique goal.”

Sakon Yamamoto (ART Grand Prix): “I made a good start. At turn 14, I overtook Villa. I braked as late as possible and it worked. After that, I tried to catch the leaders, but my running pace was not enough to close the gap. We had a great pit stop and I kept my position. I’m happy to have finished third for this race. It’s a good place to start the championship.”

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