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GP Week : 29-Apr-2008
ALVARO Parente, nicknamed ‘Chachi’ by his Super Nova team due to his likeness of the famous character in ‘Happy Days,’ began his GP2 career in style with a measured and mature win in the Barcelona feature race. The extra point he gathered for fastest lap put him at the top of the championship table after the first round, as he became the first rookie to win his debut GP2 Series race, since Heikki Kovalainen won the first ever GP2 race at Imola in 2005. Qualifying had been all about the Piquet Sports cars, as Pastor Maldonado translated his pre-season form into the first two points of the year. Parente impressed in second, with Zuber in the second Piquet car third. None of the top three had raced in the Asia Series, and their freshness and hunger was telling. Come the start of the race however, Maldonado bogged down and then stalled as the lights went out. Parente leapt into the lead and never really looked back. An early safety car following the obligatory first lap crunch, held a long line of traffic behind it, which then streamed into the pits for the compulsory pitstop. Senna emerged in second, with Zuber third, Pantano fourth, Valles fifth and Petrov sixth. The order remained relatively unchanged throughout what was a fairly dull race, although Romain Grosjean pulled off some great moves to finish fifth ahead of Petrov, Buemi and Kobayashi who took the final point and the pole for Sunday. Parente had deserved his win however, and the point for fastest lap. A lightning start from Grosjean on Sunday saw the Frenchman sit on Kobayashi’s tail until the start of the second lap, whereupon he flew past and into a lead he never looked like losing. But when Diego Nunes spun at the final chicane, the Safety Car was deployed with just a few laps left to run. When it came into the pits, Grosjean ran off at the final chicane, losing much of his pace down the straight and allowing Kobayashi to attempt to retake his lead around the outside of the first corner. Grosjean drifted out, pushing Kobayashi almost onto the grass. It was a bold and silly move, for Grosjean was by far the quicker of the two, and it resulted in a drive-through penalty and lost him any points he might have taken that afternoon. Kobayashi held on for the win, ahead of Buemi and Pantano, with Senna fourth, Valsecchi fifth and Villa sixth. The results leave Parente at the top of the early championship table, level on 11 points with Senna, with Pantano just two points behind them both in third. GP2: Happy Days for Chachi 26