• GP2, European Grand Prix, Race 2

Gutierrez secures maiden win in Valencia sprint

ESPNF1 Staff
June 26, 2011
Esteban Gutierrez won the sprint race in Valencia © Sutton Images
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Esteban Gutierrez scored the first GP2 victory of his career at the European Grand Prix sprint race in Valencia on Sunday, taking the lead after an early safety car and driving a faultless race to the flag.

Feature race winner Romain Grosjean was responsible for the caution period when he spun at turn five on the first lap and parked his car on the racing line. Charles Pic and Roldolfo Gonzalez could not avoid the stricken DAMS and piled into it, creating a mess for the marshals to clear up and bringing out the safety car on the first lap for the second race in a row.

Josef Kral had led off pole but when the safety car returned to the pits he locked up into the final corner and then missed his braking point entirely into turn two. Gutierrez and Luiz Razia took advantage and both slipped by to drop Kral to third.

Razia then put pressure on Gutierrez for the lead, but the young Mexican made no mistakes and pulled out a comfortable lead. Kral continued to lose positions, promoting Giedo van der Garde to a solid third place that he held for the rest of the race.

Kral's morning finally came to an end eight laps from the end when a spin coming onto the swing bridge left him rolling backwards amid fast moving traffic and brought about his retirement.

For the most part, the Valencia street circuit lived up to its reputation for providing processional racing. There were a few moves for minor positions, but at the front Gutierrez slowly extended his lead over Razia with van der Garde unable to unlock the kind of pace he had shown earlier in the weekend.

Davide Valsechhi took fourth place from Dani Clos four laps from the end with a well-measured move into turn 17 as the tyres on the Racing Engineering car dropped away. Michael Herck took the final point in sixth after pressuring Clos right up to the line.

After a difficult weekend Jules Bianchi put on a show in the final few laps to move through the field to seventh, passing Kevin Mirocha on the line in a photo finish. But it was too little too late and he failed to pick up any points in the latest round of what is turning out to be a very disappointing season.