Luca Ghiotto has taken his maiden GP2 victory at the Malaysia GP sprint race on Sunday. The Italian rookie drove a commanding race, holding off threat from Raffaele Marciello to become 2016’s tenth different winner.
Ghiotto made a cracking start and was able to get past reversed grid pole man Mitch Evans with a move into Turn 2 with Raffaele Marciello following in third. On the second lap, Jordan King tipped Racing Engineering team mate Norman Nato into a spin bringing out the safety car.
On the restart, Marciello got ahead of Evans into P2 while Ghiotto maintained his lead which was never threatened for the remainder of the race. Ghitotto becomes the second rookie driver to win a race this season, alongside fellow Italian Antonio Giovinazzi who is locked in a title battle with PREMA team mate Pierre Gasly.
Gasly got another bad start and dropped to 11th before charging through the pack and into a third place finish, 4.7 seconds behind second-placed Raffaele Marciello and 0.7 seconds ahead of Giovinazzi as the title rivals finished 3rd and 4th. Gasly managed to pass his team mate when he was pushed wide by MP Motorsport’s Oliver Rowland into Turn 4.
The PREMA drivers passed both Gustav Malja and Mitch Evans when the Swede outbraked himself into Turn 9 and ran Evans wide. Giovinazzi chased Gasly to the finish line but was never close enough to make a realistic move despite twice having a look into Turn 1.
Malja held on to fifth ahead of Evans in sixth and Nobuharu Matsushita in seventh while Oliver Rowland collected the last of the points in eighth.
Gasly cut Giovinazzi’s championship lead to 7 points after the race and the pair are set for a final title showdown in Abu Dhabi in 52 days and are joined in the battle by Marciello who, despite his 39-point deficit to Giovinazzi, is still in with a mathematical shot at the title with 48 points of offer over the course of the weekend.
The thrilling GP2 season concludes in Abu Dhabi, November 25-27.
Image via GP2 Series Media