© GP2 Series

Giovinazzi doubles up in Baku after chaotic GP2 sprint race

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Antonio Giovinazzi became the first driver to win twice in a single GP2 race weekend since 2012 after scoring a dramatic victory in Baku on Sunday.

Giovinazzi started eighth by virtue of the reverse grid, but dropped to last in the early stages as McLaren junior Nobuharu Matushita moved into the lead.

The Japanese driver saw his advantage over Daniel de Jong in second place fade when the safety car was deployed following a shunt involving Jordan King and Jimmy Eriksson.

Matushita momentarily lost the lead on the restart to Oliver Rowland, only for the Briton to lock up and drop behind once again.

A second caution period was called after Philo Paz Armand went off, with Matsushita assuming control of the pack when the safety car peeled in.

Matsushita returned to racing speed before slamming on the brakes, forcing the rest of the pack behind to seek evasive action. The questionable tactic sparked a clash that forced Gustav Malja, Mitch Evans and Sean Galeal all to retire, while Rowland also got caught up in the incident.

Once the safety car had made a third appearance, Matsushita led the field away again, only to be taken out by Raffaele Marciello at the first corner in an act of karma that sparked applause from the drivers that had retired as a result of his actions.

Amid the chaos, Pierre Gasly had assumed the lead for Prema Powerteam, running ahead of teammate Giovinazzi who piled on the pressure heading into the final lap.

Gasly ran wide at Turn 1, handing the lead to Giovinazzi who was then able to hold the Frenchman back despite his DRS being broken and pick up his second GP2 win in as many days.

The last driver to do the double on a single weekend was Davide Valsecchi, who won twice in Bahrain in 2012 en route to winning the series title.

Gasly was left to settle for second place, meaning that his three-year win drought continues, while Sergey Sirotkin completed the podium for ART Grand Prix.

Jordan King recovered to finish fourth ahead of Artem Markelov, who rises to the top of the drivers’ standings. Sergio Canamasas finished the race sixth ahead of Nabil Jeffri and Arthur Pic, while Alex Lynn and Marvin Kirchhofer rounded out the top 10.

GP2 returns in two weeks’ time in support of the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994