Stoffel Vandoorne has won the opening GP2 race of the 2015 season ahead of Rio Haryanto and Alexander Rossi.

Starting from pole position, Vandoorne and his ART Grand Prix team-mate Nobuharu Matsushita opted to start the race on the medium compound tyre while most drivers around them were on the soft compound.

It was a risky move which didn’t pay off initially, as the safety car was brought out on the fifth lap when there was a four-car tangle and Turn Eight. Norman Nato and Raffaele Marciello had been fighting for position when Marciello went for a move on the inside, Nato made a move to block the Italian and the pair collided, with Nato also hitting and spinning Arthur Pic in front of them. The crash left Pierre Gasly with nowhere to go but into the sidepod of Pic’s Campos.

Vandoorne, Haryanto, Rossi

Most cars completed their compulsory pit stop under the safety car to get rid of their soft tyres and jump on the mediums. Vandoorne was left to stay out as there was no point making a pit stop to put the soft compound tyre on with 27 laps still to run.

It seemed then to be a race for the win between Rossi, Alex Lynn and Mitch Evans, as all three came out in good positions after their pit stop.

Once the safety car returned to the pits it was up to Vandoorne to create a gap large enough that he could pit under, he got his plan under way by posting his first fastest lap of the race.

Meanwhile Rossi was making a charge through the field to put himself in the best position possible once Vandoorne and second-placed Haryanto pitted. Lynn found that he pushed too hard on his tyres too early and began struggling for grip, then for position as he dropped through the field like a stone posting lap times six seconds off the pace.

Vandoorne pitted with 10 laps to go, and with Haryanto pitting a lap later this put Rossi in the lead. Rookie Jordan King was fighting Evans for second place while André Negrão was looming in the background in fourth.

After returning to the track, Vandoorne posted a blistering fastest lap of the race, which was an entire five seconds quicker than Rossi who was on used medium tyres. With five laps to go Vandoorne eased past Evans and then King to take second position. Three laps later he was on Rossi’s tail and challenging for the lead, although the challenge didn’t last long as Rossi’s mediums were no match for Vandoorne’s softer compound tyres.

Haryanto followed Vandoorne’s lead into second position utilising the grip provided by his soft tyres.

King finished fourth on his debut ahead of fellow debutant Robert Vișoiu. The Romanian incurred a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane which sees him keep his fifth position just ahead of Evans.

Nathanaël Berthon finished seventh while Julián Leal will be in reverse grid pole for tomorrow’s sprint race as he finished in eighth.

The GP2 Series Bahrain Sprint Race takes place on Sunday at 2:15pm local time (GMT +3).

2015 GP2 Series Bahrain Feature Race – Final Classification (32 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Stoffel Vandoorne be ART Grand Prix 32 1:01:23.106
2. Rio Haryanto id Campos Racing 32 + 5.056
3. Alexander Rossi us Racing Engineering 32 + 5.497
4. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 32 + 12.322
5. Robert Vișoiu ro Rapax 32 + 20.048
6. Mitch Evans nz RUSSIAN TIME 32 + 25.543
7. Nathanaël Berthon fr Lazarus 32 + 27.729
8. Julián Leal co Carlin 32 + 28.463
9. André Negrão br Arden International 32 + 29.502
10. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 32 + 29.664
11. Marlon Stöckinger ph Status Grand Prix 32 + 36.875
12. Sergey Sirotkin ru Rapax 32 + 38.516
13. Artem Markelov ru RUSSIAN TIME 32 + 41.021
14. Sergio Canamasas ve MP Motorsport 32 + 41.391
15. Richie Stanaway nz Status Grand Prix 32 + 43.375
16. Zoël Amberg ch Lazarus 32 + 44.062
17. René Binder at Trident 32 + 44.682
18. Daniël de Jong nl MP Motorsport 32 + 48.421
19. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 32 + 1:05.572
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Raffaele Marciello it Trident 4 Collision
DNF. Pierre Gasly fr DAMS 4 Collision
DNF. Norman Nato fr Arden International 4 Collision
DNF. Marco Sørenson dk Carlin 4 Puncture
DNF. Arthur Pic fr Campos Racing 4 Collision

Images via GP2 Series Media

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Josh Kruse

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