Norman Nato claimed a dominant win in the Italian GP2 Series Sprint Race at Monza, his second victory of the 2016 season.

The Frenchman made a flying start from fourth on the grid to lead on the first lap ahead of Racing Engineering teammate Jordan King.

Mitch Evans, the race’s polesitter and a winner last year at Monza, made a poor getaway and his woes were compounded when he was punted into retirement at the Roggia chicane by Gustav Malja. He was joined in retirement by Luca Ghiotto, who was similarly turfed out of the race at the same corner by Oliver Rowland.

Racing was briefly suspended by a Virtual Safety Car to retrieve the stricken cars before the action resumed on Lap 2. Nato immediately pulled away from King, who acted as an effective rear gunner against the chasing pack headed by championship leader Pierre Gasly.

King and Gasly staged a lengthy and entertaining scrap for second place before Gasly finally managed to get by, but he ran out of laps to close down Nato who cruised to victory by a margin of more than four seconds over his French compatriot.

King was also overtaken by Feature race winner Antonio Giovinazzi, Gasly’s chief title rival, who overcame a scare on the opening lap when he sailed across the Roggia chicane’s run-off. The Italian was able to recover, but in finishing behind Gasly the points margin between the duo has now extended to ten.

King struggled with fading tyres and was passed by Gustav Malja for fourth place, and only narrowly held out Artem Markelov on a sprint to the finish line. The Briton’s fifth place became fourth when Malja was subsequently awarded a post-race time penalty for his first-lap contact with Evans.

Markelov too was penalised – hit with a heavier 20-second time penalty – for failing to slow sufficiently during the Virtual Safety Car period. The same penalty was also handed to Nicholas Latifi, who was originally classified in eighth place.

The penalties shook up the final classification, with Alex Lynn and Nobuharu Matsushita promoted to fifth and sixth respectively after their own exciting scrap, ahead of the penalised Malja. Marvin Kirchhöfer claimed the final point for eighth place.

The GP2 Series will stage its penultimate championship round with a return to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on the weekend of October 1-2.

2016 GP2 Series Italy – Sprint Race Results (21 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Norman Nato fr Racing Engineering 21 33:51.821
2. Pierre Gasly fr PREMA Racing 21 + 4.312
3. Antonio Giovinazzi it PREMA Racing 21 + 8.495
4. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 21 + 12.775
5. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 21 + 13.576
6. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 21 + 13.586
7. Gustav Malja* se Rapax 21 + 21.526
8. Marvin Kirchhöfer de Carlin 21 + 22.566
9. Oliver Rowland uk MP Motorsport 21 + 29.225
10. Artem Markelov* ru RUSSIAN TIME 21 + 32.813
11. Arthur Pic fr Rapax 21 + 34.192
12. Nabil Jeffri my Arden International 21 + 34.194
13. Sergio Canamasas es Carlin 21 + 36.845
14. Raffaele Marciello it RUSSIAN TIME 21 + 40.665
15. Nicholas Latifi* ca DAMS 21 + 41.503
16. Sean Gelael id Pertamina Campos Racing 21 + 44.059
17. Philo Paz Armand id Trident 21 + 48.628
18. Jimmy Eriksson se Arden International 20 1 lap behind
19. Daniël de Jong nl MP Motorsport 20 1 lap behind
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps
DNF. Sergey Sirotkin ru ART Grand Prix 6 Mechanical
DNF. Mitch Evans nz Pertamina Campos Racing 0 Collision
DNF. Luca Ghiotto it Trident 0 Collision

*Post-Race Penalties:

  • Gustav Malja – who was originally classified 4th – was awarded a 10-second post-race time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Mitch Evans.
  • Artem Markelov – who was originally classified 6th – was awarded a drive-through penalty (applied as a 20-second post-race time penalty) for failing to slow sufficiently during the Virtual Safety Car period.
  • Nicholas Latifi – who was originally classified in 8th – was awarded a drive-through penalty (applied as a 20-second post-race time penalty) for failing to slow sufficiently during the Virtual Safety Car period.

Image via GP2 Series Media

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8