Tauranga driver Richie Stanaway is the toast of the kiwi motorsport world after claiming his maiden GP2 title at the Monte Carlo Sprint Race.
The 23-year-old rookie secured the win in the Formula One feeder series, after controlling the race from start to finish with a display of maturity and calm driving.
Tauranga’s Richie Stanaway celebrates after winning the Monte Carlo Sprint Race in the GP2 Series. Photos: GP2 Series.
He finished ahead of Raffaele Marciello and rookie Sergey Sirotkin, reports the GP2 series website.
Making a good start, and jumping ahead of poleman Marciello who was sluggish away from the line, Stanaway quickly built a two-second gap which was enough to keep the Italian at bay.
There was a second Virtual Safety Car period in the closing stages when Jordan King tried to overtake Pierre Gasly at the exit of the tunnel, but went airborne after tagging the Frenchman’s car.
But this did not mess with Stanaway’s concentration and the GP3 graduate punched the air in delight after taking the chequered flag two seconds ahead of Marciello.
Stanaway took to Facebook following the race saying: “Every driver dreams of winning in Monaco and it came true for me today.
“Great to get my first win in GP2 and couldn’t have picked a better place to do it.”
Born in Tauranga, the 23-year-old was originally from a motocross background, before making the switch to speedway at the age of 12.
Following that came a brief foray into kart racing prior to making his formula car debut in 2007 after being selected for the New Zealand SpeedSport Scholarship.
He competed in the 2007/08 Formula First championship, finishing third overall as the highest-placed rookie.
Stanaway takes his prize
When questioned about how it sounds to be GP2 race winner, he admits it is “quite surreal”.
“Obviously, GP2 is quite new to me,” he adds. “It’s just my third race weekend so to win a race is quite a surreal feeling and of all the places to do it as well.”
He says once you get the lead into the first corner in Monaco, drivers sort of know that most of the job is already done because if the pace is good, it’s going to be really difficult for anyone to overtake.
“The first few laps are the time in the race to feel whether or not it’s going to be a tough race or an easy one.
“But after the first couple of laps, when I felt how good the car was, I knew that if I just stayed focused that was pretty much job done because I wasn’t struggling with any balance issues.
“Once we got a couple laps into the race I knew I wasn’t really under pressure. It’s quite a long race when you know you just have to stay focused to get the job done.”
The maiden win lifts Stanaway to ninth on the GP2 series leader board.