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Maldonado wins chaotic feature race

Pastor Maldonado on the Valencia podiumPastor Maldonado has given his GP2 title hopes a further boost with victory in a bizarre feature race at Valencia.

The Rapax driver got past ART's Jules Bianchi at the start to go into the first corner in second place behind polesitter Sergio Perez, but a series of accidents behind him eliminated nearly half the field in the first four corners.

A safety car was brought out while the mess was cleaned up and just 13 of the 24 cars were still on the track for the restart three laps later, although Ocean's Fabio Leimer and Trident's Adrian Zaugg were also able to rejoin after pitting for repairs.

But there was more drama to come before the race returned to green. Maldonado went wide at the final corner and Bianchi, taking advantage of the fact that the safety car line is before the start-finish line, was able to take the Venezuelan by surprise and pass him for second.

Bianchi made a successful move on Perez for the lead not long afterwards, but Davide Valsecchi's attempt to follow him through resulted in contact with Perez that spun the Addax car and left the Mexican at the back of the field. Valsecchi was later handed a drive-through penalty for his part in the incident.

Maldonado piled the pressure on Bianchi until the ART driver ran wide, and then gradually pulled away to secure the win by 8.2s.

Bianchi followed him for second and Sam Bird made it an ART 2-3 by finishing third; the Brit having started from 10th on the grid.

Giedo van der Garde (Addax) and Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) had an uneventful run to fourth and fifth, while Charles Pic (Arden), Marcus Ericsson (Super Nova) and Michael Herck (DPR) chased each other around to complete the points. It was a particularly welcome result for Ericsson, whose efforts finally helped Super Nova to get its first points of the year.

There was one more bit of drama awaiting Perez when he went to leave the pits and found Coloni's Alberto Valero pulling out ahead of him with the rear jack still attached.

It flew off at turn 4, fortunately bouncing out of Perez's path and instead wiping out a TV camera mounted on the catch fencing. It is one of several incidents scheduled for a post-race investigation by the stewards.

Pos  Driver               Team                  Time/Gap
 1.  Pastor Maldonado     Rapax               56m55.681s
 2.  Jules Bianchi        ART                   + 8.296s
 3.  Sam Bird             ART                  + 16.094s
 4.  Giedo van der Garde  Barwa Addax          + 16.788s
 5.  Dani Clos            Racing Engineering   + 38.974s
 6.  Charles Pic          Arden                + 42.415s
 7.  Marcus Ericsson      Super Nova           + 42.914s
 8.  Michael Herck        DPR                  + 43.722s
 9.  Alberto Valerio      Coloni               + 48.508s
10.  Davide Valsecchi     iSport               + 50.411s
11.  Sergio Perez         Barwa Addax          + 51.308s
12.  Christian Vietoris   Racing Engineering   + 55.338s
13.  Vladimir Arabadjiev  Coloni                 + 1 lap
14.  Adrian Zaugg         Trident                + 1 lap

Retirements:

     Fabio Leimer         Ocean               25 laps
     Rodolfo Gonzalez     Arden               0 laps
     Josef Kral           Super Nova          0 laps
     Luiz Razia           Rapax               0 laps
     Giacomo Ricci        DPR                 0 laps
     Ho-Pin Tung          DAMS                0 laps
     Jerome D'Ambrosio    DAMS                0 laps
     Johnny Cecotto       Trident             0 laps
     Oliver Turvey        iSport              0 laps
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