GP2 Asia Series season 2

 kicks off in Shanghai

The 08/09 season roars into action this weekend in China. Following a two-day test last week on the 5.451km Chinese track that saw Kamui Kobayashi shine on Dams, the 26 GP2 competitors are getting ready for a three-day action as the second season of the  GP2  Asia  Series  opens  tomorrow  in  Shanghai  as  part  of  the  Formula  One  race  weekend.

Going to China is a first for the championship. Its successful opening season that generated both great  action  and  a  lot  of  interest  in  Asia  and  the  Middle  East  started  in  Dubai  last  January  and ended at the same track in mid-April. Romain Grosjean was crowned Champion on ART after five rounds, including two Formula One events.

This  time,  the  GP2  Asia  Series  is  back  not  only  with  a  new  circuit  –  Shanghai,  but  also  with  an added  event.  Three  of  them  coincide  with  a  Formula  One  race  weekend:  China,  Malaysia  and Bahrain. A new champion will be crowned at the end of the 08/09 six race calendar. If Japanese star Kamui Kobayashi looks like a serious title contender, he will most certainly have to fight tooth and nails against some very competitive challengers including Russian Vitaly Petrov who finished third  in  the  first  season,  Belgian  Jérôme  d’Ambrosio,  Italian  Davide  Valsecchi,  Spaniard  Roldan Rodriguez, Japanese Sakon Yamamoto and rookie Giedo Van der Garde who all performed well last week.

The grid counts nine Asian/Middle East drivers, including former F1 driver Alex Yoong at the wheel of Malaysian team My Team Qi-Meritus.Mahara. Twelve rookies take part in the second season debut. Sporting  the  number  1  on  his  ART  Grand  Prix  car,  Sakon  Yamamoto  offers  up  his  lowdown  on what promises to be an exciting first outing: “I have raced at Shanghai twice in Formula 1, and it’s a perfect  addition  to  the  GP2  Asia  calendar. 

There  is  always  a  great  atmosphere  at  the  Chinese Grand Prix, and I think the racing will be very good. There are two long straights where the cars will get up to a very high speed. There are a couple of quick corners, including the banked one before the back straight – not many circuits have one of these! Turn one is also very unique, because it is not a straightforward hairpin.

The entry speed is very high, and you have to take the speed off as you  corner, but it is important how much speed you carry through there for the next sequence of corners. I think there can be a lot of overtaking with the GP2 car, and it’s a big circuit that I think will suit the car very well. It will be a great way to start the second season of GP2 Asia.” Schedule* Friday 17th October 11.55 – 12.25 Practice 16.00 – 16.30 Qualifying Saturday 18th October 16.00 Race 1 Sunday 19th October 11.30 Race 2

*Local time