Valsecchi wins from pole in Abu Dhabi opener
31 October 2009 – Davide Valsecchi and Luca Filippi put themselves forward as favourites for this season's GP2 Asia Series title as the former won Saturday's opening race in Abu Dhabi from his compatriot. Britain's James Jakes completed his return to Super Nova with a podium finish while Alexander Rossi's fourth spot made him the highest-placed newcomer.
Valsecchi failed to launch well from pole position while rookie Sam Bird at ART did not, and he easily took the lead in the first corner. But a few meters further, the Italian put pressure on the Brit who eventually gave way and Valsecchi then pulled away. Behind the pair, with Fabio Leimer and Roldan Rodriguez stalling respectively on the pre-grid and on the grid, Luca Filippi and James Jakes fought for third place to the advantage of the Super Nova racer. The two men then attacked and passed Bird who was notably slower. Filippi eventually took second place and put his head down to try and catch up with the leader.
Jakes was the first of the top three to observe his compulsory pitstop one lap before Valsecchi who consequently left Filippi to take control of the race. While his countryman was pitting, the Meritus racer pushed as hard as he could. Although he pitted just as a safety car was deployed on Lap 12 following a collision between Razia and Vietoris on Turn 12, Filippi managed to stay ahead of Valsecchi at the restart, with James Jakes running in third place ahead of Bird, Alexander Rossi, Josef Kral, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Christian Vietoris.
Running half a second quicker than Filippi, Valsecchi closed in on his countryman until on Lap 19 he passed the Meritus driver in a bold move that saw the two cars running side by side in Turns 11, 12 and 13 before Filippi eventually gave way in Turn 14. After that, Valsecchi raced to the chequered flag adding consecutive quickest lap times to increase his advantage. Not even a brief second safety car period in the very last stages of the race after Plamen Kralev span and stopped on the track in Sector 2 could prevent Valsecchi from securing his first win in a GP2 feature race.
Behind him, although Jakes tried to overtake Filippi, the Italian kept the Brit in check. Alexander Rossi (Ocean Racing) crossed the finish line in fourth ahead of Josef Kral (Super Nova), Christian Vietoris (DAMS) and Johnny Cecotto (Trident). Bird had to retire in the second-to-last lap following a brake problem. The ART man's bad fortune promoted iSport's Oliver Turvey to eighth place and tomorrow's reversed grid pole position.