Ayumu Iwasa took a brilliant win in the FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race for DAMS in Saudi Arabia and soaked up immense pressure from ART driver Victor Martins.
? WINNER ?
P1 ? Ayumu Iwasa ?? takes the #F2 Sprint Race WIN! in his @damsracing
P2 @VictorMartinsFR ??
P3 @DaruvalaJehan??#F2 #SaudiArabianGP #Formula2 #RoadtoF1 #F1 @ayumuiwasa_cars @MsportXtra pic.twitter.com/XkDNYfVj1o
— ?????? F2.COM (@F2Inside) March 18, 2023
Martins stormed to second place from P10 on the grid in a very assured drive. Jehan Daruvala took third place for MP Motorsport and his first podium of 2023.
The championship leader Theo Pourchaire lost out on valuable points and retired from the race after a clash with Ollie Beaman.
Jak Crawford got a great start from pole position and led into Turn 1. DAMS driver Iwasa improved to second place off the start ahead of Ralph Boschung.
The Japanese driver challenged for the lead and passed his fellow Red Bull Junior Crawford on Lap 2, with a textbook pass. Zane Maloney spun his Rodin Carlin and retired causing a Safety Car after a breathless opening lap.
Undeterred, the race leader delivered a superb restart and held the lead into Turn 1 five laps into the race, as Boschung snatched second place from Crawford.
Further down the field, the championship leader Pourchaire pulled off a superb move on Campos driver Kush Maini into Turn 1 and improved to P7.
The leading pair pulled away from Crawford in third place, the American driver was overtaken by MP Motorpsort’s Daruvala on Lap 7.
Moments later, Pourchaire clattered into Bearman after misjudging an ambitious move at Turn 1 forcing both drivers to retire. The Safety Car was deployed to clear the stricken ART and PREMA cars.
The Safety Car came in halfway through the race on Lap 10, Iwasa perfected the restart and led into Turn 1 as Martins passed Crawford to take fourth position.
The Hitech driver lost another place to Maini into Turn 16 and dropped to P6.
Daruvala took second place from Boschung into Turn 27 with nine laps to go but was re-passed by the Campos driver as Iwasa held a slim lead at the front of the field.
The top four battled hard as Martins closed up to Boschung in third on Lap 13 and challenged the Swiss driver.
The Alpine Academy driver sneaked up the inside at Turn 1 and improved to third place one lap later.
Daruvala attacked Iwasa on the pit straight and subsequently went off the track at Turn 1, he made a slight mistake a few turns later but critically managed to stay ahead of Martins.
The three-way battle continued to roll on with five laps to go, the Frenchman tried to take second place and locked up into Turn 1, this allowed the two Campos cars and the midfield to close up.
Martins took advantage of Daruvala’s mistake at Turn 1 on 17 laps into the race taking P2, as the Indian driver lost time trying to pass Iwasa for the lead.
Further down the field, Norwegian driver Dennis Hauger swept pass Arthur Leclerc to take ninth place.
On the 20th and last lap, Martins filled Iwasa’s mirrors and forced the race leader to defend into Turn 1 but the Japanese driver stayed ahead.
Iwasa held off Martins took take a brilliant race win for DAMS in Saudi Arabia, his first victory of the season and the valuable 10 points.
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited