Luiz Razia stole victory in this morning's sprint race in Valencia with a cunning and stylish drive, saving his tyres early in the race while his rivals squabbled with each other before turning up the wick late in the race to slice past James Calado and Fabio Leimer on the last lap for a stunning victory.
The Brazilian had it all to do at the start, where he dropped from P6 on the grid to P8 in short order, while at the front poleman Calado led Nathanaël Berthon when the lights went out, but the Frenchman was soon under attack by a fast starting Marcus Ericsson, while inside them Rio Haryanto mugged teammate Max Chilton for track position.
Ericsson's challenge lasted just 2 corners, when he ran out of room and found the barriers, followed by Esteban Gutiérrez, Stefano Coletti and Davide Valsecchi, prompting a safety car period to remove the stricken vehicles while Calado led Haryanto, Chilton, Leimer, Berthon and Giedo van der Garde as they waited to be released again.
The Englishman made a perfect restart 2 laps later, while Berthon had a go at his teammate and instead opened the door for the Dutchman behind him, but the battle stopped almost immediately when Jolyon Palmer found the back of Johnny Cecotto in front of him, with the spinning pair out on the spot, prompting a second safety car period.
Another 2 laps, another perfect restart by Calado, with the rest of the field shaking out behind him. Razia slicing his way into the points by zipping inside Berthon at the chicane, while the first five runners tore away in a private battle as Razia seemed unable to stay on their pace.
Up at the front Calado was no longer having things his own way, as Haryanto piled on the pressure as he tried to find a way past, with the Englishman equally resolute that he would keep the win he lost yesterday as they went side by side around the circuit. The fight lasted until lap 19 when the pair finally touched at the chicane, with the Indonesian losing his front wing and slowing his teammate just enough for Leimer to squeeze past Chilton for second.
Unnoticed behind all the top five drama, Razia was suddenly on pace again and catching his rivals easily: van der Garde had no tyres left and had to donate P5 on lap 20, with Razia mugging Chilton a lap later while the cameras followed the intense fight between Calado and Leimer as Razia closed in behind.
On the last lap Leimer made a last gap late brake attempt to take Calado at the chicane: both drivers ran too deep but the Swiss driver had to give the position back, and didn't see Razia closing on him. The Brazilian sliced past the pair at the hairpin and ran away to steal a memorable victory ahead of Calado and Leimer, with Chilton following them across the line ahead of Berthon and van der Garde, who was unable to stop a last lap challenge of his own.
The victory means that Razia is now just one point behind Series leader Valsecchi, 141 to 140, with Calado now up to third on 95, Chilton on 93 points, van der Garde on 89, Gutierrez on 87, and Leimer on 65. In the teams' championship Lotus is out on top with 182 points, ahead of DAMS (169), Arden (144), Carlin (119) and Racing Engineering on 106 points.