GP2 Gunning for Pantano

The   2008   GP2   Series   Championship   title   race   climaxes   in   Spa-Francorchamps   this weekend. With  just  two  rounds  left,  Pantano,  Senna  and  di  Grassi  are  locked  in  a  three-way battle  for  the 2008  drivers’  title.  With  71  points,  a  consistent  point  finishes  and  three  consecutive  feature  race wins  in  France,  Britain  and  Germany,  Giorgio  Pantano  has  become  the  man  anyone  with  title aspiration would have to beat, starting with Bruno Senna.

The Brazilian ace entered the title race when he took the top step of the Monaco podium. But lost points in the last three rounds may result in  him  falling  just  short  come  Monza.  And  while  the  iSport  driver  was  gunning  for  Pantano,  his countryman di Grassi entered the championship in Magny-Cours and finished second at the French feature  race.  Since  then,  he  has  scored  points  consistently,  won  twice  and  suffered  just  one retirement.  With  51  points  today,  di  Grassi’s  only  regret  could  be  that  he  missed  the  first  three rounds of the season. On average, the Campos man has scored over five points in each of his 10 races.

With Pantano’s scoring average at less than 4.5 in 16 outings, di Grassi has outscored his title rivals, but with just two rounds left, he may be running out of races. In Spa this weekend, the facts   are   here:   should  the  Italian  outscore   Senna  by  six  points  or  more  he   will  have  the championship sewn up before his home race at Monza. In  terms  of  its  motorsport  heritage,  the  Spa-Francorchamps  circuit  is  up  there  with  Monaco,  Le Mans and Silverstone and has remained a favourite with drivers and spectators since it’s inception in  1924. 

“Spa  always  produces  good  races,”  explains  Jérôme  D’Ambrosio.  “There  are  always opportunities  to  overtake, and the weather is  guaranteed to change during the weekend.  “This is my home race and I have to stay focussed and treat it like any other event, but it’s really a great track,  one  of  the  best  on  this  year’s  calendar  and  I’m  really  looking  forward  to  taking  a  GP2  car around  there.  It’s  got  all  sorts  of  corners  and  is  very, very demanding. 

“The Bruxelles hairpin for example is like nothing else, and always tricky. As you round a full 180 degrees downhill it’s all too easy to overcook it on the way in, hit the brakes late and go into the gravel. Blanchimont and Les Combes will be interesting, and then there is always the famous Eau Rouge bend. In a GP2 car it is going to be very tough, but the first time I do it flat is bound to bring a big smile to my face! “I’ve raced Formula Renaults at Spa and in those types of cars, Eau Rouge is really not that demanding. But, watching the GP2s last year I know it’s going to be an altogether different experience.

“My last time racing here was in a two litre Formula Renault in 2005, but the track has changed since then, especially the last chicane, where they’ve put asphalt run offs in a couple of places. Such changes always alter the configuration of the lap. But, that’s normal with most circuits these days.”

Schedule Friday 5th September 11.55 – 12.25 Practice 16.00 – 16.30 Qualifying Saturday 6th September 16.00 Race 1 Sunday 7th September 10.30 Race 2