Luiz Razia flies to Sepang win
Arden driver dominates opening race of the 2012 season
Luiz Razia is a happy man: a perfect get away from the front row and a flawless drive meant he took a lights to flag win today in the Sepang Feature Race. It was also the first win for the Brazilian’s team Arden International, since Charles Pic in Barcelona Feature Race in 2010. Razia crossed the finish line an impressive 7.8s ahead of Davide Valsecchi. Max Chilton in third pocketed his and Carlin’s first GP2 podium.
It all happened at the start: poleman Valsecchi was slow to get away and dropped to fourth. It was Razia who took the lead entering into Turn 1 and he would never be seen again. Behind him, Fabio Leimer made a perfect start from P5 to pass Valsecchi, Chilton and Stefano Coletti, the Monegasque driver slotting into P3. The young Brazilian rapidly built a 2.3s gap to his closest rival. The battle for P2 commenced and Coletti made a move on Leimer only to make a small mistake which opened a gap for Valsecchi to pass him.
The DAMS ace had his eye on catching Leimer. Running on Option tyres, the Italian was one second faster than the Swiss and by Lap 6 he overtook him to take P2. Razia was by then 5.1s away. Although Valsecchi set the quickest laptime, the Arden man remained in control and maintained the gap. Further down, Leimer had a tough job defending his position to Coletti and Chilton whilst James Calado and Felipe Nasr weren’t lurking too far behind.
Coletti was the first one to pit, soon followed by Leimer and Nasr a lap later. Chilton and Calado also decided to observe their mandatory pistops after that. On Lap 12 Valsecchi pitted and handed P2 to Esteban Gutiérrez, who had battled from P15 on the grid. Razia pitted from the lead on lap 14 and easily regained it a lap later ahead of Valsecchi who was by then 9.7s away.
Chilton made his way to P3 and spent the rest of the race trying to keep Leimer at bay, while Coletti, Nasr, Calado, Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde and Fabrizio Crestani fought tooth and nail for the remaining points and tomorrow’s reversed pole position. Gutierrez got through on his teammate after the Brit went a bit too wide at Turn 15 for P7.
Rain started to fall at Turn 6 with four laps to go, but no one had to return to the pits for wet weather tyres and when the flag dropped Razia punched the air with joy, crossing the line 7.8s seconds ahead of Valsecchi, with Chilton, Leimer, Coletti, Nasr, Gutierrez and van der Garde following the front pair nose to tail for P3 to 9, and Crestani 1.7s seconds back for the final points position. Calado will start from pole position tomorrow with Gutiérrez next to him for a 100% Lotus GP front row.