Duncan Tappy has moved up to fourth in the Auto GP standings after grabbing one podium at Imola and narrowly missing out on another as Adrien Tambay and Carlos Iaconelli each took victories.
The DAMS racer is equal on 13 points with Euronova’s Luca Filippi, who led the championship on a tiebreak before the weekend and looked to be on course for another big points haul after dominating testing, practice and qualifying at the Italian circuit.
But the two races were a different matter – in the first contest Filippi fought a duel with Giorgio Pantano that lasted almost the entire race until both drivers came to grief near the end, while in the second he was one of six cars knocked out in an incident at the start.
Another victim of the mayhem was Tappy’s team-mate Edoardo Piscopo, but the Italian still takes the lead of the championship as a result of his second-place finish in the opening race.
That race was won by Tambay, 27 years after his father Patrick won at the circuit in Formula One for Ferrari. He was jumped at the start by Pantano, who went on to dispatch polesitter Filippi by pressuring him into a mistake at the first corner, but he gained the lead over them both by staying out longer before his pitstop.
The running battle between Filippi and Pantano eventually ended when the former failed in an overtaking move five laps from the end and went off, but his rival also failed to benefit from his strong race pace, spinning out on the final lap. That left Piscopo in second, while Fabio Onidi held off strong pressure from Tappy for third.
Tambay said: “It’s a great feeling – the best moment was when I rejoined after the pit-stop and I realised I was in front, meaning that half of the job was done. I have to say thanks to all the other drivers, the start was action-packed but everybody was fair.
“In the final laps I was just managing the race and the brakes, so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure from Pantano. I’m really sorry for Giorgio, his race was great and he deserved a podium.”
The second race, run on a partially-reversed grid with Celso Miguez on pole, was disrupted immediately by the consequences of Stefano Coletti getting away slowly from the front row while Jonny Reid and Onidi were both surging forward having made excellent starts. The ensuing mayhem also did for Filippi, Piscopo and Walter Grubmüller.
At the restart Iaconelli got past Miguez, who then dug his heels in and defended doggedly against Tappy and the other pursuing cars for the rest of the race.
The best chance for Tappy came on lap 14, when he got side by side with the Spaniard, but Miguez just outbraked him in the corner to retain second place. The fight went on until the flag, with Miguez ahead of Tappy by only 0.028sec at the line – and more than 14 seconds behind the winner.
Tappy said: “Every time I was in Miguez’s slipstream my car was hitting the rev limiter, so passing was really difficult. I tried putting pressure on him but he coped really well with that, so in the end I decided to settle for a good podium finish and some very important points.”
Miguez said: “I’m really satisfied, because this result is important both for me and the team. I didn’t have the car to win because grip was lacking a bit, and Iaconelli did a good move passing me on the outside taking advantage from new tyres. From then on I had to keep Tappy behind and it wasn’t easy. We have a lot of work to do, but we were last after qualifying so getting a podium is incredible.”
Following the weekend’s racing Piscopo has 20 championship points, Tambay 16, Filippi and Tappy 13 each, and Onidi 12. The biggest surprise is former GP2 champion Pantano, who is in 16th with a single point. Tambay put in the strongest performance across the weekend, earning €80,000 for his troubles. Iaconelli earned €50,000, and Tappy €30,000.