Scuderia Coloni driver ends Belgium weekend on a high
Luca Filippi snatched a second win in the 2011 season at the wheel of the Scuderia Coloni car in an action packed sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps. The Italian who drove flawlessly from P5 on the starting grid was joined by Jules Bianchi and Josef Kral on the podium.
As the lights went off, poleman of the day Kral made a perfect start to keep the lead, but it was Johnny Cecotto who made the strongest impression on the rest of the field. The Venezuelan chose the right side of the straight line from P9 to pass Fairuz Fauzy on the inside of Turn 1 and take P2. Further down, Filippi overtook both Dani Clos and Fairuz Fauzy to come out in third place at the end of the first lap.
As Kral stayed in control and built up a 2.9s gap with Cecotto, the Ocean driver was fighting hard to keep an overzealous Filippi at bay. The Italian passed the Venezuelan at Eau Rouge, but Cecotto fought back and regained his position quickly. Behind the battling duo, the action was just as intense with Bianchi overtaking Clos on the last corner, the Spaniard having just lost a position to newly crowned GP2 Series Champion Romain Grosjean. At the entrance of Turn 1, Bianchi made a move on Grosjean but ran a bit too wide and lost a position to Clos.
By Lap 7, Filippi had eventually passed Cecotto, and was the quickest man on track one second faster than race leader Kral. But the Safety Car was deployed after Fabio Leimer lost the rear of his Rapax car at Eau Rouge and crashed heavily into the barrier. Although his machine was severely damaged, the Swiss driver walked away uninjured.
At the re-start, Kral stayed in the lead, but Filippi did not let him get away, overtook him after Eau Rouge and sprinted to victory. Behind them, Cecotto was under pressure from Fauzy, Grosjean with Clos in tow. The Malaysian driver eventually was out of the equation when he went a bit too wide at Turn 1 and it looked as though Cecotto would be able to breathe a little bit better while Grosjean, Clos and Bianchi were once again busy fighting each other off. The three men ran side by side after Turn 1, and at the bottom of Eau Rouge, Bianchi passed to take P4 and set his sight on Cecotto for P3. He did the job in the last corner and chased after Kral.
Cecotto lost a position to Grosjean and Clos and while the Ocean driver was fighting the Spaniard to regain his position, Sam Bird joined in on the fun and overtook both for P5. While Filippi extended his lead, Bianchi disposed of Kral in the last lap. The Arden man was then Grosjeans prey, but Kral managed to keep the Dams man at bay to retain P3. Grosjean finished in fourth ahead of Bird and Clos.
With this result, Filippi has moved up to fifth in the drivers standings, nine points behind Giedo van der Garde who is still in second. As for Bianchi, after a strong Belgium weekend and two second places, the Frenchman is now third in the drivers standings, one point behind the Dutchman at Addax. The fight to become Vice Champion in two weeks time at Monza will be another GP2 classic.