The 2011 GP2 series European season opened with the unusual sight of rain in Istanbul on Friday, leaving the iSport team thankful for the wet weather in practice at Silverstone. The preparation done on those test days and the information gleaned on the new Pirelli tyres helped to propel iSport’s Sam Bird into second place in the qualifying just eight hundredths of a second behind Romain Grosjean. A very badly timed red flag left Marcus Ericsson frustrated in seventeenth, but he’d already shown this year that he has the pace to attack from there.
Saturdays feature race was one to excite the crowds with the iSport drivers playing a huge part in the entertainment. A titanic battle at the front of the field between Sam and his French rival kept spectators on the edge of their seats. After an hour of racing, the pair crossed the line just three tenths of a second apart with a huge thirty five seconds gap to the third placed car. Bird and iSport opted to change all four tyres to Grosjean’s two in the final pitstop, which looked to be the right strategy as the British flyer closed quickly at the death, but the line came just too quickly. Meanwhile Marcus made headway through the field, finishing finally in ninth position. Agonisingly just one more place gained would have seen our man on the front of the grid for Sunday’s sprint race as the eight scoring positions in the feature race are reversed on the start grid for the second race.
Sunday was dry, although not as hot as normally expected at the Speed Park. Another good start for Sam from seventh position saw him take sixth place early on as challengers jostled for positioned ahead of him. Some more excellent driving saw him go by both Razia and Clos, finally picking off Pic for a third place finish and his second podium in two days. A dramatic moment in the last moments of the race saw Marcus clip his team-mates car having done well to go through the field again. The collision didn’t affect Bird, but it meant that Ericsson was not able to claim the points that his speed over the weekend deserved.
Team Principal Paul Jackson was pleased with iSport’s start to the European campaign. Hailing Sam Bird’s good preparation in the tests, willingness to work on tyre management, and sheer talent he declared the whole team “buoyed by the good results.”
He also echoed the general consensus that the Pirelli tyres were working well for GP2 producing entertaining racing and interesting tactical decisions. On What Jackson considers a great drivers track with overtaking opportunities he was not overly worried about Ericsson’s absence from the points table at this stage. “He was unlucky with circumstances, but was clearly fast. You can expect much better to come from him.”
After two days of successful testing in Barcelona lat month, iSport go there for the Spanish GP in ten days time lying second in the table and with two quick cars.
-source: isport international