Once again Giorgio Pantano has shown why he is one of the favourites to take the 2008 GP2 Drivers Championship as the Racing Engineering driver took the fifth fastest time in qualifying, less than six tenths of a second away from Pole Position. For the Spanish team’s other driver, Javier Villa, things did not go quite as well but he still lines up thirteenth in a very closely matched field.
Giorgio was quick from the start of Free Practice setting the fourth quickest time of 1m 27.746s in a very competitive session where the top eleven cars were separated by less than a second. For Javier it was a case of setting up his car to his satisfaction in order that he could get back to the high level he achieved in recent testing. The young Spaniard finished in seventeenth place with a time of 1m 28.978s.
For both of the drivers of the Repsol/Telefónica backed Dallaras the 30 minute Qualifying session was very important, for Giorgio a good grid position was vital to continue his push for the Championship and the aim for Javier was to be able to be in a position to score points in tomorrow’s race.
Once again Giorgio was right on the pace and a 1m 27.487s lap was good enough for fifth on the grid and, if the Italian hadn’t been forced to slow on his flying lap, a position in the top three was a real certainty. Javier’s work on the car set up paid off as he set a time of 1m 28.163s, an improvement of eight tenths of a second on his morning time, which resulted in thirteenth on the grid.
With both of the Racing Engineering drivers pleased with their cars the omens for tomorrow’s Feature Race are good, Giorgio will be looking for a podium position and even a win is possible and Javier will be aiming to push hard and get a good points scoring finish.
Alfonso de Orleans Borbón (team principal): "I think Giorgio could have done better, if his fast lap wasn't spoilt, a pity, but we are confident that he will fight back tomorrow. Javi is well positioned to be in the points tomorrow. Now let's see how things turn out."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "In qualifying I went a bit better than in free practice. We improved the set up, but I think we need a bigger step for tomorrow. If it's a dry race, it will be hard with the medium compound tyres as the rear tyres start graining. And if it's wet, the cards get mixed again anyway."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "For me it went quite well, but it would have been even better, without encountering Senna in the first sector during my flying lap. This forced me to slow down, which is a pity. Apart from that I am sure I could have done a top 3 result as everything went fine for me."