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