Pedro de la Rosa took a surprise win in the streets of Cartagena after finishing second in the first race and third in the second, beating McLaren-Mercedes teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the first race and struggled in the second one after crashing and damaging his Easykart.
The two-race event provided plenty of action on the track, as the 10 drivers from F1 and IndyCars battled for victory in front of a huge crowd and under clear skies and soaring temperatures.
Race 1 was full of action from turn 1 as Helio Castroneves, who was third on the grid, clipped the back of poleman Dan Wheldon, creating a chain reaction which caused a major pile-up. IndyCar racer Roger Yasukawa was able to avoid contact and took the lead, but a fast recovering Montoya, who was also able to take evasive action in turn 1, overtook him on the second lap.
After that the man to watch was Red Bull’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, who set a blistering pace in pursuit of the leader. It was a matter of laps before he was in Montoya´s tail and twice he made contact with the Colombian under braking. However his attack finished when he clipped the tyre barrier at the exit of one of the chicanes, bending his rear axle and putting himself out of the race.
With Montoya leading De la Rosa by more than 10 seconds and Yasukawa third and far from the Spaniard as well his pursuers, the rest of the 20-minute race was very straightforward. Montoya took his first win in Colombia for more than eight years and looked as the favorite to take the overall win, as only Liuzzi was able to set quicker lap-times during the race.
Conditions for Race 1 were tough, with ambient temperatures rising above 35 degrees Celsius and track temperatures exceeding 50. That made levels of grip poor, which combined with the bumpy surface and the challenging layout, caused many incidents through the 16-lap race.
Race 2 was no different, although there was one man in control from flag to flag. Vitantonio Liuzzi showed his mates how it should be done, putting his Easykart at incredible angles under braking, while going quicker than everyone else and putting on a great show for the stands. He also took full benefit of his grid position, as the results from Race 1 were inverted to determine the starting order.
Only his Red Bull teammate, Christian Klien, was able to get close to his lap-times during the race, but after failing to finish Race 1 as Liuzzi, he was not in contention for the overall win. The fight for the top prize was behind them, with Helio Castroneves in third and looking as the likely winner, as results from Race 1 and Race 2 were added to determine the final results.
However the two-time Indy 500 winner was denied the chance to go for his usual fence-climbing antics when he lost the left-rear wheel of his Easykart with only three laps to go. That, added to the misfortunes of MidlandF1 newly signed Christijan Albers and some of his colleagues, left Pedro De La Rosa third on the road and gave him enough points to take overall victory.
Teammate Montoya´s race was full of drama after he bent a steering arm on his chassis when he tried to overtake Dan Wheldon. He was still able to recover and was catching the Brit again in the last part of the race, but eventually took sixth behind him and Antonio Pizzonia, who claimed fourth having started from pole.
Avoiding trouble on the track was Roger Yasukawa, who took full advantage of his third place on Race 1 to add enough points to secure himself a place on the podium beside the McLaren-Mercedes duo of De la Rosa and Montoya.
The event was a sell-out , contributing to generate funding which will benefit thousands of children in Colombia through the Formula Smiles Foundation. For more information go to www.carreradeestrellas.com
Race of Stars
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