Impressive win for Racing Engineering's Giorgio Pantano
It was a dominant performance today in Turkey for Giorgio Pantano in the Racing Engineering Dallara as the experienced Italian lead the Feature Race from start to finish.
As the lights went off and the 25 GP2 cars left the grid Giorgio jumped into the lead and immediately began to assert his authority with a flying first lap that saw him leading by 1.35 seconds. Javier Villa in the second Racing Engineering car also made a good start from eighth on the grid gaining two places to move up to sixth at the end of the first lap. Up at the front Giorgio was simply in a class of his own as he pulled away from the second-place car of Grosjean by almost a second a lap whilst Javier was battling hard with Petrov for fifth.
Giorgio continued his untroubled progress and he was the only driver lapping in the 1m 35 second bracket other than a delayed Senna who was at the back of the field. By lap 10 Giorgio had a 7 second lead in the Repsol/Telefonica liveried car and for the next 15 laps he carefully controlled the gap back to the second car of Grosjean holding his lead to around 7.5 seconds.
Javier was still fighting hard with Petrov, he was less than half a second behind and gradually pulling away from D'Ambrosio. Lap 11 saw the young Spaniard make his mandatory pitstop but he was unlucky to have to delay his exit from his pit box to avoid colliding with Maldonado who was just making his stop. Javier resumed in 8th as there were cars ahead of him yet to make their stop and he immediately set about trying to close the gap on Petrov and pull away from Buemi who was now chasing the Racing Engineering car.
Positions remained static until lap 24 when a spinning Valerio bought out the Safety Car. Giorgio took advantage of the incident to make his pitstop, as did the pursuing cars, but a quick and efficient stop from the Racing Engineering pit crew saw him resume the race still in the lead. On lap 28 the Safety Car pulled off and Giorgio used all his experience to control the start and to take the lead once again. As before the other cars were unable to match Giorgio's pace and by lap 32 he was 2.7 seconds ahead of the field and with no mistakes over the remaining two laps Giorgio swept to a superb victory, not his first GP2 win but his first with Racing Engineering.
Javier was in sixth place as the Safety Car pulled in but as the cars began racing again Javier ran wide on one corner on cold tyres and was passed by Buemi and then lost a further place to Carroll at the next corner as he was handicapped by dirt on his tyres. Javi was determined not to give up and immediately began to pressure Carroll in an effort to re-pass the Irishman and on the last lap his hard work was rewarded as he dived past the FMS car to finish 7th. This is the third race in succession that the two Racing Engineering cars have finished showing a commendable level of reliability with the new car.
For tomorrow's Sprint Race Giorgio will start 8th on the reversed grid but with his dominant pace today another win is a real possibility. Javier will start 2nd and with his excellent record in Sprint Races when starting at the front the young Spaniard must also be considered a favourite for a race win.
Giorgio's win sees him leading the Drivers Championship with 21 points, a lead of 8 over the second placed driver Zuber and Racing Engineering lead the Team Championship by 6 points.
Alfonso de Orleans Borbon (team principal): "First of all I think everyone did a fantastic job, both cars finished the race once again which is quite incredible compared to some of the other teams. However most importantly Giorgio took our first win of the season and Javi once again scored points for the Team. We are the only team to get both drivers in the points today so I couldn't be more happy.
The other thing that's important is that Giorgio's race was impeccable and Javi's race was fantastic although he only gained one position and he starts on the front row tomorrow. So I couldn't be happier and all the boys did a great job."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "It was not bad today, I made a good start and for the first part of the race we were sixth which was good. Then after the pit stop everything went well and I was still sixth. Then the Safety Car came out, at the restart I went off at corner 6 and two cars passed me. I overtook one of the cars and finished seventh.
For tomorrow we will try some different lines and different things. I will be starting second and it will be important to push hard on the first lap and I think we can finish on the podium, that's my hope."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "For me today was fantastic, it was fantastic also for the Team and everybody. I have to say thank you to the Team because we took the right decision for the settings on the car. We improved it from Barcelona, we knew what to do and we did the job, we won and it's perfect like this!
I am very pleased with everyone because we understood what to do to improve the car and to improve me and I am very, very happy.
I am sure it is possible to score points tomorrow; we will try to do our best, it is not difficult to pass and we will try to score the maximum that we can."