GP2 France feature race: Pantano wins messy race

Giorgio Pantano, GP2, Magny-Cours, 2007Giorgio Pantano became the sixth driver to win in as many races after a fraught encounter at Magny-Cours.

The race was stopped after a frightening crash that Ernesto Viso was extraordinarily lucky to escape from.

The Venezuelan struck the rear of Michael Ammermuller’s ART car, barrel rolling along a section of barrier and landing on the other side of it. It was sheer fortune that neither Viso, nor anyone on the other side of the barrier were badly hurt – or worse.

The first start began as a comedy of errors – but could so easily have turned into something much worse. ISport team mate Timo Glock and Andreas Zuber took the front row – and drove straight into one another, Zuber’s car alarmingly rising over the front of Glock’s.

Both were out on the spot and race control despatched the safety car. But as the cars accelerated out of the Adelaide hairpin Viso slammed into Ammermuller’s car and rolled along a low barrier, demolishing an advertising hoarding as it went.

The remaining cars assembled behind the safety car but on lap four red flags brought the race to an end. Viso was taken to the medical centre where the worst of his injuries were found to be concussion.

An hour later the race restarted. Most of the drivers had gotten their mandatory pit stop out of the way during the brief safety car period. Karun Chandhok led the field but in no time at all Pantano seized a lead he was never to lose.

But there was plenty of action behind him. ISport wasn’t the only team to see its drivers clash: Super Nova’s mechanics winced as Luca Filippi ran into Mike Conway, knocking the luckless Briton out of fifth place and down to 17th.

Filippi shortly passes Bruno Senna for fourth place – but the two hadn’t seen the last of each other.

On lap 17 Christian Bakkerud turned in on Kohei Hirate at the hairpin as the Japanese passed him. Hirate survived the clash but Javier Villa passed the pair and Bakkerud retired shortly afterwards.

Nicolas Lapierre was on a charge – his pit stop had been delayed after he hit one of his mechanics. On lap 26 he passed Vitaly Petrov to take eighth, where he would remain until the end, taking pole position for tomorrow’s race.

On lap 33 Filippi ran wide allowing Senna passed again, but the Italian shortly re-took third position. The battle for the final podium position came down to the final lap when Senna edged Filippi aside to take the place for good.

Pantano took an unchallenged win ahead of Lucas di Grassi, then Senna and Filippi. Petrov was fifth ahead of Adrian Zaugg, who has pushed Alexandre Negrao wide at 180.

Javier Villa and Nicolas Lapierre completed the points-paying positions – with the unfortunate Conway a point-less ninth.

Related links: Enormous crashes stop GP2 feature race

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