Ericsson and Kral share GP2 wins
Valsecchi moves level on points with Razia in Drivers' standings
By William Esler. Last Updated: 04/09/12 1:46pm
Marcus Ericsson and Joesf Kral shared the GP2 wins in Belgium as Davide Valsecchi moved level on points with Luiz Razia in the Drivers' Championship.
Saturday's feature race was packed with incidents, including a red-flag period lasting over an hour.
Ericsson made a good start, as poleman Rio Haryanto bogged down on the grid and as Esteban Gutierrez tried to find a way past, the Swede took advantage to pass the Mexican.
Behind the leaders, Nigel Melker ran wide on the third lap on the exit of Eau Rouge and crashed heavily into the barriers.
The safety car was called for and when the pits opened on lap six the whole field bar Giedo van der Garde, Stephane Richelmi, Simon Trummer and Stefano Coletti taking advantage. The race was eventually red-flagged whilst Melker was airlifted to hospital and repairs were made to the barriers.
As the drivers got ready for the restart, it was aborted due to there being no medical helicopter at the circuit, causing a further long delay.
The field eventually got back under way, behind the safety car for one lap, with the non-pitters in front of Ericsson, James Calado and Valsecchi.
Caterham's van der Garde did what he could to limit the damage of his stop, setting a series of fastest laps, while behind him Ericsson slid past Trummer and then sat back to protect his tyres, while his English rival struggled to find a way by the Swiss driver, losing time on every lap.
When the non-stoppers eventually came in for their mandatory stops, Ericsson eclipsed the field to easily claim the victory, leading Calado over the line by 11.5 seconds, with Valsecchi completing the podium.
Behind them Kral drove well to pick up fourth, with van der Garde right behind to salvage fifth position. Luiz Razia drove a clever race to ease his way up to sixth from 18th on the grid, ahead of Julian Leal and Felipe Nasr, who overtook Richelmi and Haryanto at the last corner for 8th place and the reverse grid pole.
Kral then picked up his maiden GP2 win in Sunday's sprint race, after a storming start saw him lead into La Source, with James Calado following him through on the inside.
Behind them Johnny Cecotto spun Max Chilton into Nathanael Berthon's path, with the Addax driver picking up a five-place grid penalty for next week's feature race at Monza.
Razia challenged Calado for second at the top of the hill, with the Arden driver spinning and forcing title rival Valsecchi off the track, and both cars into the pits for repairs. Razia eventually finished out of the points in 20th, whilst Valsecchi retired from the race.
When the flag dropped it was Kral who took the plaudits for a mature drive to victory, but the action was still raging behind the Addax driver.
Into the bus stop chicane Calado held second, but Nasr dived to the inside on the exit and outdragged the Lotus driver to the line, with Ericsson following them home in fourth. Fabio Leimer finished a lonely fifth ahead of Richelmi and Haryanto, with Stefano Coletti mugging Julian Leal on the last lap for the final point.
After the race a delighted Kral said: "It means a lot, because we've been waiting for such a long time. This gives us more confidence, and it's a little but unfortunate that it has come this late because we should have done this earlier, but anyway it's good that it came and now we have to work with this, see what we did different, and just maintain the same.
"This is what I've said, because it's a big boost for the whole team, especially for my side of the team because Johnny had some good results, but we just needed some good luck to put it all together, which this weekend worked. And hopefully, next weekend can be similar!"
1. Luiz Razia (BRA) - Arden - 204
2. Davide Valsecchi (ITA) - DAMS - 204
3. James Calado (GBR) - Lotus - 160
4. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) - Lotus - 150
5. Giedo van der Garde (NDL) - Caterham - 141