A great result yesterday for Racing Engineering in the GP2 Series Sprint Race at Valencia as both Giorgio Pantano and Javier Villa were able to score points in spite of their low starting positions, the Italian finishing third and the Spaniard fifth. Giorgio's third place allows to the driver from the Spanish team to increase his advantage at the head of the Championship standings.
The shorter race of the GP2 Series weekend on the spectacular Valencia Street Circuit was not an easy prospect for Racing Engineering, yesterday’s bad luck meant that today Pantano had to start from the middle of the field, in 14th position, whilst Javi was even further behind, in 21st position. Nevertheless, from the opening meters, both of the drivers from the Spanish team showed their intentions of not giving up and, after a fantastic get away, at the end of the first lap they had recovered a significant number of places: Giorgio was eighth, having already made up six positions and Javi was running in an incredible 12th place, after gaining no less than nine positions.
One more lap and both Giorgio and Javi improved by another position when Maldonado went off at the end of the straight, so within just two laps Pantano was already about to enter the points scoring zone, running seventh behind the Belgian D'Ambrosio, while Javi was looking for a place in the top ten, sitting in 11th and putting pressure on the driver ahead, the Indian Chandhok. The Spaniard needed only three laps to pass his rival, getting 10th position and immediately beginning to close on the ninth placed driver, the Russian Petrov.
On the seventh lap, the duel for third position between Andy Soucek and Bruno Senna was resolving at one stroke with both out of the race: the Spaniard because of mechanical problems and the Brazilian spinning and hitting the wall. This meant that Pantano moved up to fifth and Villa to eighth. In addition, with his main rival in the championship out of the race, the situation was looking good for Giorgio, who already was now in a points scoring position.
The race situation was then Filippi, Grosjean Di Grassi at the front, followed after a few seconds by the second group with D'Ambrosio ahead and which included two Repsol and Telefónica backed Dallaras. When Filippi made contact with Grosjean, the Frenchman was out of the race so Giorgio and Javi were promoting one more position, now being fourth and seventh respectively on lap 11. Villa was already on the verge of the point scoring positions and soon he was entering it after overtaking Petrov on lap 12, so the two Spanish team drivers were fourth and sixth at the half race distance, positions that had seemed impossible to reach at beginning of the race. At this moment, the Safety Car was deployed when Asmer’s car spun in the middle of the track, so the whole field had got close up ahead of the remaining laps before the finish.
After the Safety Car pulled in, an exciting phase of the race began for Javi Villa, strongly pressed by Petrov, the Spaniard cut one of the chicanes and had to give way to his rival. Chandhok tried to take advantage and pass both but the Indian hit the Russian, with Javi seizing the opportunity to recover the sixth position and defend it strongly against the assault from Valsecchi on the inside of the next corner.
The Racing Engineering driver dealt with the Italian and the race finished with him in a great 6th position, closing on the 5th placed Nunes, after an impressive recovery race that completed a tremendously positive morning for the Salucar de Barrameda based outfit. Two places ahead, Giorgio was holding his fourth position to the finish without problems. Minutes after the end of the race, Filippi and Chandhock were penalised, so Pantano was moved up to third position and Villa to fifth. The final result meant that Giorgio adds four very important points to his total which allows him to further improve his advantage over Bruno Senna, who today scored no points, so the Racing Engineering driver extends his margin at the head of the championship with just two race weekends left to the end of the season.
Once again, the competitiveness and total reliability of the Racing Engineering cars, which keeps their fantastic 100 % record of races without any breakdowns, combined with the talent of their drivers, allowed the Spanish team to shine today in a much anticipated weekend for the whole team that has proved to be quite tough.
Alfonso de Orleans Borbón (team principal): "I am very happy with the performance of both our drivers in today's race. They both had great starts, drove well and were able to score points.However, we know that many more points were within reach this weekend, so our overall summary cannot be a positive one. Like always, our boys did an excellent job and deserve a big thank you for what has been a very difficult weekend."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "Not bad. It was a tough race starting from 21st and finishing 5th. I was very fast and this is positive. For Spa it is important now to be in front from the beginning to have a great race there."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "In the end we finished 3rd starting from 14th which is good after what happened yesterday. There was nothing more we could do. Of course it is upsetting what happened yesterday and I am happy to have at least finished third today, especially as Senna didn't score points."