x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Valsecchi the victor at Yas again

The Italian's second win came last night in the 21-lap sprint race of the GP2 Asia series.

Davide Valsecchi celebrates his win at the Yas Marina Circuit yesterday.
Davide Valsecchi celebrates his win at the Yas Marina Circuit yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Davide Valsecchi probably wishes all his races were at the Yas Marina Circuit. He has finished on the podium in each of his four races here, winning twice and finishing runner-up on the two other occasions. The Italian's second win came last night in the 21-lap sprint race of the GP2 Asia series and took the iSport International driver's tally at the top of the drivers' championship to 35 points from two rounds, 19 more than his teammate Oliver Turvey.

Starting from seventh on the grid, Valsecchi had moved up to third place by lap four. With seven to go, he found his way past Gia-como Ricci and worked on cutting Michael Herck's five second lead. Then, two laps from the end, he overtook the Romanian for a memorable finish. "I don't know if you can do that at any other circuit - make a race like I did here," said Valsecchi. "Maybe Spa, but in Nuremberg it is not possible to start from eighth and finish first. That is why the races here are more interesting.

"This is an amazing track. The first part is full of fast corners, the chicane is almost flat and then there are these two long straights where it is really possible to overtake - so it's perfect for me." The two DPR teammates Herck and Ricci finished 1.969 and 4.227 seconds respectively behind Valsecchi. Barwa Addax's Sergio Perez, Race One winner Turvey and Max Chilton of Ocean Racing Technology were also among the points. "I had a few problems with my down shift so I knew it would be hard to fight against Valsecchi," said Herck.

"When he overtook me, I did not try to press too much because it would have been stupid to crash trying to do that." The result puts DPR second in the constructors' championship with 15 points, although they are still a long way off the leaders iSport International on 51. Ricci, how-ever, believes the performance of the car this weekend bodes well for the upcoming races. "This week is unbelievable for us at DPR," he said. "The team have done a good job with the car and I think we have a really strong one. OK, Valsecchi was flying, but the rest were way behind us."

In the support races, Abdulaziz al Faisal completed a double in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, by racing to a comfortable win in Race Two yesterday. The championship leader from Saudi Arabia finished the 12-lap race 14.2 seconds ahead of his cousin Khalid al Faisal. Bandar Alesayi finished third to complete a Saudi cleansweep of the podium. The Dubai-based Australian Tarek Elgammal drove to an emotional win in Race Two of the Chevrolet Supercars Middle East Championship, topping the rostrum for the first time since 2008.

Bahrain's Sheikh Hamad al Khalifa was second with Abdulaziz al Yaeesh of Saudi Arabia third. The win, coupled with his pole position and fastest lap, gives Elgammal 12 points and he joins al Yaeesh in a tie for second spot overall in the championship with 44 points, 13 behind leader Fahad al Musalam, who finished fourth yesterday. "This is a very emotional win for me," said Elgammal, the 2007 champion.

"It has been such a long time coming. I haven't had much luck, though I have put in so much effort. Absolutely nothing has gone my way. "I put everything I have into motorsports - I have put my heart and soul. "And it is really difficult explaining the results to my sponsors. I cannot afford to lose them. "That is why this win is so important - I really needed this." @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae