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GP Week : Issue 56
two podiums for Lucas di Grassi marked him out as by far the most consistent and impressive driver of the sixth race weekend of the 2009 GP2 Series. The Brazilian had looked monstrous in practice, almost half a second clear of his closest rival. Come qualifying, however, and the times were somewhat closer, di Grassi taking pole by less than a tenth of a second from Vitaly Petrov. The Russian’s team-mate Romain Grosjean had been hoping to get his championship challenge back on the rails as the second half of the season got underway, but a rash move on Franck Perera, when Grosjean moved over onto his countryman far too early, put both drivers out within the first five minutes of the session. Incredibly the stewards sided with Perera, and banned him from the first race. Grosjean would start 25th. At the race start, Petrov dropped 30 GP2: Who needs wins? Not Luca H E may not have taken either of the race wins in Hungary, but a pole position and like a stone allowing di Grassi to lead the early stages of the race, with Javier Villa second and Nico Hulkenberg, who had dominated the German event two weeks before, up to third. Villa was the first to pit after a string of fast laps and Hulkenberg reacted immediately. He took his stop on the next lap and emerged ahead of the Spaniard. Di Grassi reacted in the same way and stopped one lap after Hulkenberg, getting out narrowly ahead of the German. But with one lap of heat into his new tyres, Hulkenberg had the guts and the confidence to try an audacious move around the outside of di Grassi at Turn 2. He made it stick and he shot off for the win and fastest lap. Di Grassi took second position with Villa third, Maldonado fourth, Valsecchi fifth, Filippi sixth, van der Garde seventh and Davide Rigon in eighth for his first GP2 point and pole for Sunday. Grosjean had fought his way up to tenth. Rigon had looked relaxed before the second race, but he could not contain the rampant start of van der Garde, and the Dutchman took the lead at the first turn. Half way around the first lap, Maldonado took Rigon out and up into second jumped Filippi with Villa third and di Grassi fourth. Grosjean swiftly made his way up to fifth, with Alvaro Parente sixth and holding off the advances of Hulkenberg. At one point, just a few laps from the conclusion of the race, the top eight were split by four seconds. It was tremendously close. Van der Garde soaked up race-long pressure from Filippi to seal his first GP2 win and his iSport team’s first of 2009. Villa slipped off the track and finished fifth, behind di Grassi in third and Grosjean fourth. Parente picked up the final point. The results mean Hulkenberg now leads the title race on 57 with Grosjean second on 45 and Petrov third on 41. A double podium however sees di Grassi sit just one point off Petrov on 40, and with eight races left to go it is these four drivers who look most likely to compete for the title.