Spaniard takes his fifth win of the season in Imola
Andy Soucek celebrated his championship in style today, leapfrogging Mirko Bortolotti and Robert Wickens from the start to claim his fifth victory of the season.
The Spaniard, who clinched the championship yesterday, continued his impressive streak in Formula Two as he looks forward to a test with the AT&T Williams F1 team at the end of the season.
The race got off to a frenetic start – Soucek bursting between the Red Bull duo of Wickens and Bortolotti, and Mikhail Aleshin making his way up to fourth place. The Russian then passed Wickens on the outside at the Traguardo chicane, but Aleshin pushed too hard at the next corner and spun on the exit of Tamburello. His car was stranded on the circuit as the whole F2 field powered through – unfortunately, Jens Höing was unsighted and the German ploughed into Aleshin at high speed.
A safety car was instantly deployed but Pietro Gandolfi somehow did not see the boards and he ran into the slowing Natacha Gachnang ahead. The young Swiss female racer was furious with Gandolfi as she remonstrated with him after the accident. Both cars were out on the spot and this further prolonged the safety car period.
At the restart, Wickens got the jump on Bortolotti soon after the start/finish line, but the Italian had a problem. With smoke and oil coming from his car, Bortolotti pulled off but not before the slippery surface had caught out several drivers behind. Alex Brundle was having a great run but the young Englishman was the first to hit the oil and it fired him off into the barrier. Julien Jousse and Jack Clarke followed, although Clarke was able to rejoin.
Marshalls were able to put sand down on the oil while the race continued and leader Soucek was the first to throw up plumes of white dust into the cars behind. Wickens‘ car was covered, which seemed to startle the Canadian momentarily as his vision was obscurred. The leading pair traded fastest laps towards the end of the race but they both maintained position as Soucek recorded his fifth win of the season.
Milo Pavlović took a lonely yet well deserved third place. The Serbian has been struck by bad luck throughout much of 2009 so it was fitting that he made his first visit to the podium since Spa-Francorchaps in June.
Tobias Hegewald took fourth to fire himself back into the top six of the championship standings, whilst Carlos Iaconelli came home fifth.
There was a fantastic battle for sixth place and it will be a memorable one for young Briton Jolyon Palmer. The teenager has been in good form at Imola and he followed up his storming drive during yesterday’s race with another here today. His rise from 16th on the grid to sixth at the finish included a great pass on Spaniard Germán Sánchez, and he picked up his first points of the season ahead of Jason Moore and Sánchez. The reigning Formula Palmer Audi deserves great praise after racing with a fractured hand throughout the weekend, and a fantastic pass on Sánchez late on will have made his efforts all the more worthwhile.
Nicola De Marco and Philipp Eng both fought their way up from the back of the field and were challenging for sixth at one stage, but the pair eventually had to settle for ninth and tenth respectively. Armaan Ebrahim was struck with bad luck when his car did not get off the start line, whilst Kazim Vasiliauskas also retired when running well in the top six.
Andy Soucek said: "I got a good start. It was a bit dangerous because I was in the middle of the Red Bull cars and I was a bit uncomfortable, but I managed to squeeze up the inside. From then on I just pushed really hard to improve my lap times, I was very consistent and quick. Another victory, now five wins and eight podiums – I can’t really expect more. Today I really wanted it to be good, and I’m very proud."
Imola – Race Two – Provisional Classification:
1. Andy Soucek, 15 laps
2. Robert Wickens, +2.407s
3. Milo Pavlović, +7.912s
4. Tobias Hegewald, +16.389s
5. Carlos Iaconelli, +20.163s
6. Jolyon Palmer, +23.510s
7. Jason Moore, +25.495s
8. Germán Sánchez, +27.214s
9. Nicola De Marco, +27.288s
10. Philipp Eng, +28.071s www.formulatwo.com