Giorgio Pantano put in a stunning performance in yesterday’s Feature Race at Silverstone, the Italian driver showing a wonderful combination of speed and intelligence as he increased his lead in the Drivers Championship. Javier Villa drove a steady race to finish 13th but the 3rd fastest race lap showed that the young Spaniard is starting to regain the speed he showed earlier in the season.
Fortunately for all the teams the threatened rain held off and the race started under blue skies as all the drivers made a clean start to the 36 lap Feature Race. Giorgio made a great getaway from 5th on the grid and immediately gained a place as a slow starting Grosjean caused Zuber to lift and the Racing Engineering driver took immediate advantage of the situation. On the third lap Giorgio gained another place as leader Senna made a mistake at Stowe and ran wide loosing several places.
Giorgio now began a very entertaining battle with his championship rival Grosjean as the two cars fought hard for second place and two soon became three as the recovering Senna joined in.
The leaders were all on a similar pitstop strategy and Giorgio stopped on lap 16, a lap after Grosjean, resuming once again hard on the gearbox of the French ART driver. Giorgio now began to attack Grosjean all round the circuit as the Repsol/Telefónica supported Dallara looked for a way to pass, the Italian giving every sign that he had the faster car. Unfortunately an abandoned car at Vale meant yellow flags and this was one of the areas where Giorgio was looking to pass. Suddenly as the two cars entered Abbey Grosjean left a small gap, it was barely a car wide but Giorgio dived down the inside and the two cars rubbed wheels but the Racing Engineering car was up to second.
Giorgio was now 3.7 seconds behind leader di Grassi but he quickly began to close the gap and on lap 30, as the cars exited Stowe, Giorgio was right behind di Grassi and as the cars entered Club Giorgio feinted to the left and as di Grassi covered the move Giorgio darted to the right and took the lead. The contest was finished and over the remaining handful of laps Giorgio pulled away to a confident four second victory.
For Javier Villa it was a case of doing the best he could from 13th on the grid but from the start he found himself caught behind Tung with Petrov close behind. Javier tried all he could to pass Tung but he was unable to pass the Chinese driver. As the cars in front of Javi made their pitstops the Spanish driver moved up the field even leading for a lap at the halfway point before stopping for his mandatory pitstop. Although he was able to resume ahead of Petrov he lost a place on the lap following his stop as he was still running on cold rear tyres. On lap 23 Javi was right behind Valles and he attacked and made the pass moving up to 16th place. Over the remaining laps he improved to 13th place as some of the cars ahead hit problems and this was his finishing position although he had the consolation of the third fastest race lap.
For tomorrow’s Sprint Race Giorgio will start from 8th on the reversed grid and will be looking to further improve his 13 point lead over Senna whilst Javier will be looking to turn his undoubted race speed into a points scoring finish. Once again Racing Engineering showed how competitive their cars are and once again the Spanish team saw both of their cars finished the race.Alfonso de Orleans Borbón (team principal): "Giorgio was absolutely fantastic, I think this was his best race to date. The whole team was able to make everything work absolutely perfectly and I want to thank every single team member for the effort and work they have been putting into the team this season so far. This is a team effort of everyone."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "I am very happy with the race, I had a very good feeling with the car and I saw clearly that I have a problem in a straight line. Therefore I am very confident in regards to the upcoming race, because the mechanics and engineers have done a good job all year so far, so we all deserve a good result in Germany."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "Everything was wonderful today and I have to especially say thank you to the team for the car I had in this race and the fast pit stop. This is exciting for me, the team and everyone. This was a wonderful race."