Luiz Razia scored a sensational victory in Sunday morning's sprint race at the Valencia street circuit, the 12th round of the GP2 Series, taking the lead with only seven corners remaining from longtime leader James Calado.
Calado (Lotus GP) led the majority of the race, which was punctuated by two early safety cars. But he was chased hard early on by Carlin duo Rio Haryanto and Max Chilton. Haryanto actually took the lead on lap 15, after lunging alongside Calado at Turn 25 on the previous lap, but Calado clung to the inside line as they surged around Turn 1, and claimed his lead back at Turn 2.
The next flashpoint in the lead battle occurred at Turn 12 on lap 20, when Haryanto's lunge down the inside turned sour, and he clattered into the side of Calado. Haryanto was out of the race on the spot, and although Calado continued, his car was damaged in the impact and the following pack quickly caught him as he clearly lost pace.
The chase was now led by Fabio Leimer (Racing Engineering), who passed Chilton just as the top two were colliding. With four laps to go, Leimer was right with Calado, and piled on the pressure, but Calado stood firm and put up a brilliant defense, despite struggling with his ill-handling car.
It all came down to the final lap: Leimer lunged around the outside of Calado at Turn 12, but locked up and straight-lined the chicane. Leimer now led, but was forced to give the place back to Calado, while Razia – who had been down in eighth on the opening lap - emerged as the real threat. Razia had passed Giedo van der Garde's Caterham entry when he ran wide at Turn 2 on the penultimate lap, and then quickly passed Chilton at Turn 12 too.
Razia had all the momentum into Turn 17, as Calado clung to the inside line, defending hard from Leimer. But Razia grabbed the lead by driving around the outside of both at Turn 17 and claiming the inside line for the next left-hander. Calado and Leimer then clashed, sending Leimer way wide at the right-handed sweeper that follows, and they crossed the finish line in the order Razia, Calado, Leimer and Chilton.
Nathaneal Berthon finished fifth for Racing Engineering, passing van der Garde on that oh-so-eventful last lap.
Saturday's race winner, Esteban Gutierrez of Lotus GP, was eliminated in a second-corner crash. That was sparked when Marcus Ericsson of iSport rocketed from seventh to third at Turn 1, but his attempt to go around the outside of Berthon at Turn 2 ended with him being run into the tyrewall.
Behind him, Gutierrez was similarly shoved wide by Leimer, with whom he clashed yesterday, and piled into the back of Ericsson. Stefano Coletti (Coloni) followed suit, as did points leader Davide Valsecchi (DAMS), the only one of these who was able to rejoin.
Valsecchi made two pit stops but still finished 10th. He still leads the points, but only by one point from Razia.
A second safety car period was required when Monaco winners Johnny Cecotto Jr. and Jolyon Palmer clashed on the exit of the final corner after the first restart. Each blamed the other.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Luiz Razia Arden 46m07.255s
2. James Calado Lotus + 1.179s
3. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering + 1.587s
4. Max Chilton Carlin + 2.425s
5. Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering + 2.957s
6. Giedo van der Garde Caterham + 4.969s
7. Simon Trummer Arden + 8.415s
8. Julian Leal Trident + 9.501s
9. Daniel de Jong Rapax + 13.591s
10. Davide Valsecchi DAMS + 17.564s
11. Josef Král Addax + 21.005s
12. Tom Dillmann Rapax + 34.565s
13. Nigel Melker Ocean + 46.929s
14. Luiz Felipe Nasr DAMS + 50.083s
15. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham + 51.366s
16. Giancarlo Serenelli Lazarus + 57.490s
17. Fabio Onidi Coloni + 1'03.342s
18. Victor Guerin Ocean + 1'03.439s
Rio Haryanto Carlin 19 laps
Stephane Richelmi Trident 5 laps
Jolyon Palmer iSport 3 laps
Johnny Cecotto Jr. Addax 3 laps
Stefano Coletti Coloni 0 laps
Esteban Gutierrez Lotus 0 laps
Marcus Ericsson iSport 0 laps
Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus 0 laps