UPS AND DOWNS IN TURKEY FOR DPR
It was mixed fortunes for David Price Racing (DPR) at the second round of the 2008 GP2 Series in Istanbul, Turkey today. Regular driver, Diego Nunes made significant progress through the weekend to finish in 13th place in today's Feature race. Stand-in driver, Giacomo Ricci, temporarily replacing the injured Michael Herck, made an early exit after a suspected parts failure put him out of the race..
The weekend's preparations began on Friday with a one hour practice session ahead of the afternoon qualifying session. In a tense, frantic hour of grid-setting action Nunes qualified 20th, but was given a penalty for a yellow flag infringement, dropping him to 23rd on the grid for the Feature race start. Ricci qualified close behind, but with seven drivers being handed penalties, lined up in 21st position for the first of the two Istanbul races.
Both DPR cars were off the line well and the drivers calmly avoided a number of spinning cars ahead. After the opening lap Ricci was lying 16th with Nunes four places back in 20th. The 34 lap race distance featured a new regulation with cars not allowed to make their mandatory pitstop until lap seven. After the frenetic opening lap the race settled down with little change in the order as drivers began to develop a rhythm on this impressive circuit.
Both DPR drivers were running at a steady pace in the early stages, but Ricci had to pull off track with a suspected parts failure which put him out of the race. Nunes continued on, but a drive through penalty for crossing the pit exit white line, dropped him back down the order. The young Brazilian was lying in 16th place at half distance. As the race reached the closing stages the race slowed its pace. A safety car was deployed with nine laps to go for Alberto Valerio stranded in the middle of the track after a spin. This closed up the field and Nunes, lying in 15th, toured the circuit behind the Mercedes, with this safety car pacing the cars until the track had been cleared and they were able to return to green flag racing.
The safety car left the track with only seven laps until the chequered flag, and it was a sprint to the end for the GP2 field, with Nunes pushing hard to improve on his finish position and set himself up for a good grid slot for tomorrow's Sprint race. The young Brazilian improved to 14th initially, and although struggling to cope with his worn tyres he persevered on, finally crossing the finish line in 13th place, a creditable drive for the DPR driver.
David Price, Team Principal, said at the end of a tough Istanbul Feature race, "This is a very unique track and it really tests the drivers. It's anticlockwise, the only track on our calendar that runs in that direction, so it needs high levels of fitness and careful tyre management. For our young drivers it adds to the pressures. Giacomo was unlucky to suffer car problems and that disadvantages him for the Sprint race tomorrow. I think Diego could have had a top ten finish, but just a small mistake cost him that chance. He certainly had a very strong race pace, lapping consistently within the pace of the top ten, so with a good start and luck on his side, there's every chance for him to finish well. He's continuing to learn quickly and starting close to the top ten sets us up well for tomorrow."
The second of the two races at Istanbul Park in Turkey takes place tomorrow morning in front of a huge crowd, with the GP2 event supporting the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix.