By Liam Moakes 28/03 Updated: 28/03 18:19
THERE was joy for Cropthorne’s James Calado who clinched his maiden GP2 Series race victory in the opening round at Sepang in Malaysia at the weekend.
Calado was in stunning form as he recorded a lights-to-flag triumph in Sunday’s reverse grid race having finished eighth in race one of the season the previous day.
The Racing Steps Foundation-backed Lotus GP driver shot into the lead from pole ahead of team-mate Esteban Gutierrez and controlled the race from the front all the way to the finish.
By the end of the first lap the gap between the pair was sixth-tenths of a second which Calado gradually opened up to eight-tenths by mid-distance and 2.2s with a lap to go.
The dominant win - which was all about tyre management - was a near repeat of the RSF driver’s lights-to-flag win in the reversed grid race at the non-championship GP2 final in Abu Dhabi in November.
Fellow GP2 rookie Felipe Nasr (DAMS) followed the Lotus GP pair home a further 1.4s behind to claim a maiden podium finish.
The win promotes Calado to third in the driver standings after the season-opening rounds behind race one winner Luiz Razia (Arden) and Davide Valsecchi (DAMS). Gutierrez moves up to fourth one point behind his team-mate.
The two points for fastest lap posted by a top ten finisher were claimed by Carlin’s Rio Haryanto with a time of 1m 50.849s. The overall fastest lap was clocked by Lazarus driver Fabrizio Crestani (1:50.690).
“I made a good start and after that it was all about saving my tyres as much as I could because there was much more degradation than we expected,” said Calado.
“It was predicted they would only last for 17 laps and we had to do 22. But everything was working as it should and I was calm and didn’t make any mistakes, so it was relatively easy to control things from the front and gradually pull away from Esteban lap by lap.
“I never pushed once although I tried quite hard for fastest lap as well, which I was only a tiny bit off, but preserving my tyres and finishing was more important.”
The next rounds of the 24-race GP2 calendar are scheduled for Bahrain in a fortnight’s time.
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