• GP2, Belgian Grand Prix, Race 2

Filippi wins dramatic sprint race

Laurence Edmondson at Spa Francorchamps
August 28, 2011
Luca Filippi celebrates victory in the second race of the weekend © Sutton Images
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Luca Filippi took his second victory of the season during an action-packed GP2 sprint race after taking advantage of a mid-race safety car to close in on and subsequently pass Josef Kral.

Kral eventually dropped to third behind Jules Bianchi, who started from seventh and stormed through the field with some daring overtaking manoeuvres. Newly-crowned champion Romain Grosjean wrapped up a successful weekend with fourth place ahead of a brilliant drive from Sam Bird, who started the race back in 12th. Dani Clos took the final point on offer in sixth.

Kral led the first half of the race comfortably after Johnny Cecotto Jr made a lightning start from 11th and placed his car on the inside of La Source to leapfrog his way up to second. The start was made even more impressive by Cecotto Jr negotiating his way around a slow-starting Adam Carroll, who bogged down off the line on the row in front of him.

On lap five Filippi muscled his way past Cecotto Jr at Les Combes and, despite a determined but ultimately failed fight back in Rivage from the Ocean driver, started to hunt down Kral ahead of him. Filippi's task was aided massively when Fabio Leimer had a huge shunt at the top of Eau Rouge on lap seven, which ripped the rear axle and gearbox from the back of his Rapax. The accident was not caught on video camera but it looked as though Leimer was sideways through the top of Eau Rouge and slammed rear-end-first into the barriers. Fortunately Leimer looked completely unharmed as he jogged away from the wreckage, but the scattered remains of his car called for a safety car that allowed Filippi to close up on Kral.

At the restart three laps later Filippi got a good run through Eau Rouge and made a fairly routine manoeuvre stick into Les Combes to take the lead. In third place Cecotto Jr came under attack from Grosjean, but after a blocked move on lap 13 Bianchi got the run on the champion out of La Source and lined his own car up behind Cecotto Jr. By the end of the lap Bianchi had passed Cecotto Jr into the bus stop and started picking away at Kral in second.

Cecotto Jr then haemorrhaged track positions and on lap 14 his battle with Clos allowed Bird to storm through the field at the start of the next lap. After a brave move through the Fagnes chicane, Bird driver was up to fourth and Cecotto Jr eventually slumped to eighth. But the drama was not over as, just a couple laps from the end, Bianchi made his move on Kral up the inside of the high-speed Blanchimont and took a well-earned second.

Giedo van der Garde, who is second in the championship, rounded off a bad weekend by finishing 20th following a clash with Pal Varhaug at the first corner.

The GP2 title may have been wrapped up by Grosjean on Saturday, but there is still plenty of life left in the championship heading into the final round at Monza in two weeks' time.