RUSSIAN TIME's Sam Bird takes GP2 Sprint Race victory in Bahrain
Felipe Nasr and Stefano Coletti complete podium
By William Esler
Last Updated: 17/09/13 1:20pm
The British driver led every lap of the race, but nearly lost it on the line with only millimetres separating the 26-year-old and the Carlin driver.
Tom Dillmann made a good start from pole, to hold the lead through the first sequence of corners at the Sakhir circuit. Behind him, Stefano Coletti had rocketed from seventh on the grid to challenge Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Turn One, but, as they battled Bird took advantage to pass both and get up to second behind his team-mate.
Further back, Nasr tagged Alexander Rossi into the first corner, spinning the Caterham driver into Feature Race winner Fabio Leimer. The Brazilian escaped without damage, whilst Rossi limped back to the pits for a replacement nose and Leimer was lucky to continue, as he completed the race with a chunk of the Caterham nose lodged in his sidepod.
Bird closed up to the back of his team-mate at the end of the first lap and made the move into the final corner, but Dilmann fought back into Turn One and there would have been some nervous faces on the RUSSIAN TIME pitwall as their drivers went wheel-to-wheel. Bird held onto the lead, and Coletti took advantage of the fight to pass Dillmann into Turn Four for second, with the Frenchman losing third to Nasr a lap later.
After stalling on the grid and losing his front-row slot yesterday, Marcus Ericsson's nightmare weekend continued as he retired at a third race distance, meaning the man many tipped for the title is yet to score point in 2013.
The middle stages of the race turned into a tyre saving exercise, but the action was to reignited in the closing stages.
As the race entered the final two laps, there was only tenths between the top three, setting up a thrilling finale. Coletti locked up at the final corner and ran wide which allowed Nasr through and he set about closing the gap to Bird, with Carlin driver seeming to have kept his tyres in better condition that the Briton. Bird defended into the final corner as Nasr darted one way, then the other but was unable to find a way past and the pair were separated by just +0.080 at the line.
GP2 Bahrain Sprint Race
1) Sam Bird (GBR) - RUSSIAN TIME
2) Felipe Nasr (BRA) - Carlin
3) Stefano Coletti (MON) - Rapax
4) Tom Dillmann (FRA) - RUSSIAN TIME
5) James Calado (GBR) - ART
6) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) - Carlin
7) Daniel Abt (GER) - ART
8) Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) - MP Motorsport
9) Fabio Leimer (SWI) - Racing Engineering
10) Kevin Ceccon (ITA) - Trident
1) Stefano Coletti (MON) - 64
2) Fabio Leimer (SWI) - 54
3) Felipe Nasr (BRA) - 48
4) Sam Bird (GBR) - 33
5) James Calado (GBR) - 24
6) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) - 22
7) Alexander Rossi (USA) - 15
8) Tom Dillmann (FRA) - 12
9) Stephane Richelmi (MON) - 12
10) Mitch Evans (NZL) - 11