It was a promising start for Racing Engineering in today’s qualifying for the first round of the 2008 GP2 Series with both drivers qualifying in the top 10.
This morning’s first practice session showed that the Racing Engineering team had developed a good set-up for the Montmeló track when the team’s new driver, Italian Giorgio Pantano, was immediately on the pace setting the fifth fastest time of 1m 28.808s less than seven-tenths of a second slower than the fastest time.
Javier Villa completed the session with a time of 1m 30.094s to finish in eighteenth place but he was confident that he would be able to run with the pace of the fastest for qualifying.
With both drivers certain that they had a good setup for their new 2008-design Dallara they were both looking forward to being up at the front for qualifying.
As the afternoon’s 30 minute qualifying session began Giorgio was immediately on the pace and setting some very quick times and he was soon at the top of the timesheets. Following a red flag incident Giorgio pitted to have a new set of tyres fitted but as he returned to the track Bruno Senna had an accident resulting in yellow flags being deployed. Sadly for Giorgio the yellow flag lasted for four laps and in that time his new tyres lost their edge, nevertheless the experienced Italian was still able to set a 1m 28.290s to take the fifth fastest time. Afterwards Giorgio was confident he could have been on the front row had he not made a small mistake in one corner as a result of his tyres being past their best.
Javier found his car was now much better than it had been earlier in the day and he was able to lap with much greater confidence. Javi also opted to fit new tyres following the red flag incident but he was to find that it would have been better to delay the change a little longer as the fastest times were being set in the later stages of the session. Despite this Javi still set a time of 1m 28.562s, only a quarter of a second away from his team mate, and he will start tomorrow’s race from ninth place.
Both drivers are looking forward to Saturday’s race as the sure that they will have a good race set up for the two Repsol-Telefónica liveried racing Engineering cars.
Alfonso de Orleans Borbón (team principal): "A pity about qualifying, I think we could have done much better. However, knowing that our two boys are fast and our crew will once more put all its best into their work, I am positive for tomorrow. It should be another exciting weekend ahead."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "We were much better now than in the free practice. I couldn't set a fast lap as there was red flag, I decided to put new tyres on thinking there might not be the time to change them later. Therefore others, who put their new tyres on later set better times towards the end of the session. I think I could well have finished in the top 5."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "We were a bit unlucky. When I put the new set of tyres on Senna went off and I had this yellow flag for 4 laps. For sure I could have been in the first row if not for that. I am positive for tomorrow, 5th is not bad and we are not far away. We are there."