SOJ makes it two in a row

SOJ makes it two in a row

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SOJ makes it two in a row


Race Report

Despite a full team line up, a full grid remains elusive in GP2 so far this season. Three drivers were out of action this week: McLaren's milky, Ferrari's VTEC and STR's thisisaverylongname. More drivers are expected to miss races over the coming weeks, will the championship come down to those who can race consistently? "Well, obviously it helps, the more races, the more opportunities to score valuable points" said sophmore driver rogue eclipse, "but then I was the only driver to compete in every race last season and it certainly didn't bring me any championships, so take from it what you will".

Qualifying

Championship leader SOJ once again set the early pace, with a respectable 1:33.277 from his first flying lap. Unlike round 3, this first lap wouldn't be enough to cement P1 for the McLaren driver, as rival NightFire pipped him by just 2 hundredths of a second on the prime tyre. Not to be outdone, SOJ returned fire late in the session with a 1:32.755 on options to take his second pole position in a row. It was an impressive return for Sauber's Sora, rounding out the top 3 qualifiers as the only other driver sub-1:34.

Further down the field it was another tight battle for grid position, showcasing just how close this field is in season 2 - P5 through P9 were all separated by less than a second. Williams' rogue eclipse was frustrated to finish outside the points in P6 - "A disappointing result given we expected to be in the 1:33s for qualifying this week. This was our poorest qualifying performance this season, so we'll be looking to turn it around next weekend". Lotus' Ploddy had also expected a stronger qualifying performance but wasn't too unhappy with P4 "Looking at the times, I could have squeezed maybe 1 more place, so meh". Mercedes' Toggsie was struck down with steering problems, ending his session prematurely in order to fix the glitch before the race.

It was the first incident free qualifying session of the season -penalties were handed out in Melbourne and Shanghai, and we all remember the weather affected session in Malaysia - would it translate into our first incident free race of the season?

Race

As it happened, it wouldn't even take even take until the race start for the drama to begin. Reliability problems again struck down the Williams of zdievo, with the rookie unable to make it to the grid. Toto Wolfe issued a statement saying nothing more than that technical issues had forced the team to make the difficult decision to pull zdievo out of the race after qualifying. It has been a difficult beginning to his GP2 career, hopefully zdievo will have an opportunity to show his stuff on the track in Spain.

Lap 1, turn 1, and what would it be without chaos. This week's culprit was Williams' rogue eclipse. After a good start he stuck to the inside and locked up in the dirt offline, contacting Ploddy and unleashing mayhem. Ferrari's Nightkid had nowhere to go and bounced off the errant Williams before spinning after contact with RBR's Fredzfrog. In fact nearly every car was caught up in the resultant confusion and the stewards were busy handing out drive through penalties - one to each of the Lotus drivers, one to Fredzfrog, and two to rogue eclipse.

Avoiding the action at turn 1, SOJ managed to pull away and open up an early gap to NightFire, although the Mercedes driver was able to keep in touch despite being on the harder tyre. Naturally, SOJ pitted earlier, stopping on Lap 12, but the lead pair had created enough of a buffer on the field for him to rejoin in P2 with a 15 second gap to NightFire. On fresher tyres, the championship leader was able to cut the gap to 10 seconds by the end of lap 18, retaking the lead when NightFire pitted for options. The question now would be whether his 7 second lead would be enough to keep the Mercedes at bay.

Further down the field, there was action aplenty. Mercedes' thought they had Toggsie's steering problem sorted, but unfortunately the problem persisted, showing itself on lap 1 and drastically reducing the rookie's race pace. Red Bull's Fredzfrog displayed the fragility of a modern F1 car after demolishing his front wing in spectacular fashion on a bollard at turn 1 on lap 3. Lap 8 brought on the second retirement of the day, after an incident at turn 1 between Ferrari's Nightkid and RBR's Nobody led the Red Bull pulling out of the race. Nobody was clearly fuming over the incident after the race, whilst Nightkid remained defiant. One thing is certain, we can expect some tense racing the next time these two are aroudn each other on track.

Whilst Sora consolidated P3, his team mate had his hands full towards the closing stages with the Team Lotus boys. rogue eclipse had recovered from his horror start to pass Nightkid for P7 after the pitstops. The race was delicately poised through the midfield, and at the front of the pack when the race took another twist. Fredz, not content with his first brush with the turn one bollard, took a little too much of the corner on lap 22 and, this time, destroyed his RB8 in spectacular style. Luckily, Red Bull's bear fighting hero was unhurt and is expected to return to the grid next week. The accident brought out the safety car for only the third time in GP2 history.

The safety car changed the equation for everyone, suddenly SOJ's 7 second lead to NightFire had evaporated, Sora was back with the lead pair and the close racing midfield were bunched up tight. Both leaders stayed out rather than pitting for new tyres, whilst Sora, Prime and rogue all took the opportunity to get some fresh rubber. The restart was poised for a thrilling finish - SOJ on worn primes led from NightFire on relatively fresh option, who was followed closely by Effing on worn primes, Sora on fresh options, Ploddy on worn primes, PessimistPrime on fresh options, Nightkid on worn primes, rogue eclipse on fresh options, with Amril and Toggs out of position in the train.

The race restarted on lap 25 and NightFire attacked SOJ from the outset, who held the Mercedes off until he ran wide onto the back straight. NightFire pounced and led the race until the final lap, when SOJ reclaimed the lead into turn one. NightFire pushed too hard to stay with the McLaren and ran wide at turn 4, allowing Sauber's Sora to swoop through for P2. Try as he might, NightFire couldn't get passed the Sauber, who took his first podium of the season to cap off an excellent return to the grid "I could see SoJ and Nightfire duking it out, and more crucially losing grip. Then saw Nightfire lose it and took 2nd. Overall, happy".

SOJ recognised the effort of his main competitor after the race "I'd just like to thank NightFire for a great race, and it's really good to know we can go wheel to wheel and be clean". NightFire was left to rue what could have been after his final lap mistake "I wasn't happy with myself for an error caused by a lack of running time around the circuit and from there I just couldn't hold the nerve to try passing Sora despite being on his rear wing for most of the lap".

The midfield dash to the finish was just as enthralling, with Ploddy, Effing, Prime, Nightkid and rogue duking it out for crucial championship points. Ploddy, Effing and Prime changed positions almost corner by corner through laps 26 and 27, including one heart stopping moment where they raced to turn 4 three wide! A bad line through 5 and 6 wheel to wheel with Prime saw disaster strike for Effing, forcing him to run wide and drop from P4 to P8. Ploddy was able to get some breathing room over Prime, rogue and Nightkid, who continued to go wheel to wheel through the final 3 laps. rogue used DRS to pass Nightkid on lap 28 and later passed Prime at turn 11, whilst simultaneously losing out to Nightkid. Prime re-passed the Williams on the outside of turn 13, before tagging Nightkid into turn 14 and allowing rogue to snatch P5. The sauber stuck to the back of the Williams throughout the final lap and looked set to pass on the final turn, but rogue was able to prevail.

It was another week of poor luck for Toggsie and Amril, with technical difficulties plaguing both drivers throughout the race. They will take some small consolation from picking up some championship points due to retirements, but both will be looking to re-establish themselves in Spain after showing good pace in recent races.

So that was round 4, in a word - epic. With SOJ establishing a solid lead, the chasing pack remain delicately poised. What will round 5 bring? Join us next week, 8:30pm Sunday from Catalunya for the Grand Prix of Spain.

GP2 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Qualifying Results
Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 1 Great Britain SOJ Great Britain McLaren 01:32.755 0
2 2 Australia NightFire Germany Mercedes 01:33.237 0
3 10 Australia roxas3sora3 Switzerland Sauber 01:33.830 0
4 4 Australia Ploddy France Lotus 01:34.043 0
5 7 Sweden Effing Sea France Lotus 01:35.350 0
6 5 Australia rogue eclipse Great Britain Williams 01:35.523 0
7 16 Australia NightKid Italy Ferrari 01:35.615 0
8 14 Australia Fredzfrog Austria Red Bull 01:35.742 0
9 6 Australia PessimistPrime Switzerland Sauber 01:35.839 0
10 15 Australia iM Amril intel Italy Toro Rosso 01:36.434 0
11 8 Australia Toggsie Germany Mercedes 01:36.906 0
12 11 Australia nobody813 Austria Red Bull 01:37.129 0
13 19 Australia petevo Great Britain Williams 01:39.918 0
GP2 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Race Results
Pos No Driver Team Time Laps Fastest Lap Grid Pts
1 1 Great Britain SOJ Great Britain McLaren 00:50:00.507 29 01:36.251 1 30
2 10 Australia roxas3sora3 Switzerland Sauber +3.368 29 01:35.698 3 21
3 2 Australia NightFire Germany Mercedes +3.578 29 01:35.486 2 19
4 4 Australia Ploddy France Lotus +9.453 29 01:37.104 4 14
5 5 Australia rogue eclipse Great Britain Williams +11.821 29 01:36.929 6 10
6 6 Australia PessimistPrime Switzerland Sauber +12.890 29 01:36.803 9 8
7 16 Australia NightKid Italy Ferrari +13.715 29 01:36.284 7 6
8 7 Sweden Effing Sea France Lotus +18.166 29 01:38.370 5 5
9 15 Australia iM Amril intel Italy Toro Rosso +1 lap 28 01:37.950 10 2
10 8 Australia Toggsie Great Britain McLaren +2 laps 27 01:39.452 11 1
DNF 14 Australia Fredzfrog Austria Red Bull +29 laps 0 01:39.452 8 0
DNF 11 Australia nobody813 Austria Red Bull +29 laps 0 01:40.383 12 0
DNF 19 Australia petevo Great Britain Williams +29 laps 0 00:00.000 13 0
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