Racing Engineering's Giorgio Pantano Consolidates His Championship Lead.
There were mixed fortunes for the Racing Engineering drivers in today's Sprint Race as Giorgio Pantano finished a competitive fourth and continues to lead the Drivers Championship while Javier Villa was the victim of an over-optimistic passing manoeuvre.
Giorgio made a good start from eighth place on the reversed grid, picking up several places in the opening corners to move up to fifth. Javier was slightly slow away from the second spot loosing a place into the first corner but holding onto third spot.
Several drivers spun off on the first lap or had mechanical problems and the Safety Car was deployed to allow the hard working Turkish marshals to remove the stranded cars. Racing resumed on lap 4 with Javier chasing Buemi and in turn being chased by Grosjean, Giorgio and Conway but the young Spaniard quickly lost a place to Grosjean.
Lap 5 saw Javier trying to re-pass Grosjean but he was demoted to fifth by his hard-charging team mate Pantano who quickly closed the gap to Buemi. Javier lost another place to Conway on lap 8 and the Racing Engineering driver found himself in a battle with Chandhok for sixth. It all went wrong on the following lap when Chandhok, looking for a gap that wasn't there, tried diving inside Javier, the two cars made contact and Javier was pushed wide loosing several places. In trying to recover from the incident Javier spun and dropped to 17th place.
Meanwhile back at the front Giorgio was still in fourth and chasing Buemi, Conway had moved up to fifth but the Racing Engineering driver was able to keep the gap to the Trident driver to about a second.
The Safety Car was suddenly back out on lap 12 as two dogs were seen running on the track, Senna hitting one of them at high speed fortunately without injury to the Brazilian although his car was badly damaged. Racing resumed two laps later with Giorgio still chasing Buemi and although he closed in several times on the Arden car the experienced Italian decided to take things carefully and to look to adding to his points tally with a solid fourth place finish. Javier managed to move up to 15th by the chequered flag but it was not a race the Spaniard will want to remember.
Giorgio continues to head the Drivers Championship by 5 points from Grosjean while Racing Engineering is still on top of the Team Championship, the Spanish team leading ART Grand Prix by eight points. Once again both of the Repsol/Telefonica backed cars finished the race to make it eight finishes in eight starts, a 100% reliability record for Racing Engineering.
Both drivers will now be looking forward to the twists and turns of Monaco in two weeks time where the Racing Engineering cars should once again be very competitive and victory will be the aim of Giorgio and Javier.
Alfonso de Orleans Borbon (team principal): "A positive weekend overall. We are going to Monaco leading both the team and the Driver Championship, but as we all know, that track is a bit of a lottery, so let's hope we'll have another good weekend there as well. The whole team did a fantastic job and it shows in the results. I want to thank everyone, the drivers, the engineers and the mechanics for once again having both cars finish in both races this weekend. This makes us the only team having had both cars finishing all races so far. Reliability is the key along with a good set-up and fast drivers to winning a championship. Well done everyone."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "It was a bit difficult today. I didn't have a good start and was third, but this was OK. But then I had some problems and it was very difficult, I wasn't able to keep up with others on the straight line.
In the last corner there was another car that caused me to spin, I lost many positions and tried to push, but there simply was a difference. We will now check things properly in order to see what the problem was."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "I am so happy with this weekend. I think from Friday on we have done a really good job. The team was really good and I had a great car. Scoring 15 points during this weekend is not bad at all. I hope we continue like this as we are there at the front and are definitely competing for the championship."