DPR CONCLUDES GP2 SEASON WITH CHALLENGING MONZA
The 2008 GP2 season drew to a close this weekend at the Monza circuit, supporting the Italian Formula One Grand Prix. Uncharacteristically bad weather for this event shaped the fortunes of the David Price Racing (DPR) team. Diego Nunes and Michael Herck both fell out of yesterday's Feature race which compromised their points goal, having to start towards the back of the grid for today's Sprint race. This morning the two drivers avoided the dramas that others endured, to make it to the GP2 chequered flag for the final time this year. Michael Herck, starting 19th, finished in 17th place, while Nunes improved from his 21st place start to cross the line in 15th position.
It was treacherous weather conditions as the grid formed for yesterday's Feature race, the penultimate race of the season. After a wet practice session and dry qualifying session, Nunes claimed 17th place grid slot and Herck took 24th place. The lack of visibility and standing water resulted in the race starting behind the safety car, with the cars being released to race after two tours of the Monza track.
Both DPR drivers improved their positions after the opening lap with Nunes lying 13th and Herck in 20th. Incidents ahead of Herck a few laps later promoted him to 18th, while Nunes improved to 12th place until mid distance when rival Alvaro Parente passed him on the front straight while the young Brazilian was battling with gearbox woes.
The majority of the field, including the DPR drivers, opted to delay their mandatory pitstop until the track dried, and with the rain abating the cars created a dry line, prompting Luca Filippi to change to slick, dry weather tyres. Herck, staying out while others pitted, moved up to 14th place but after putting on dry tyres at his stop he was caught out by the damp conditions, sliding off track and ending his race. Meanwhile Nunes was struggling with gearbox problems which ended his race before he had reached his tyre change stop.
Both drivers, having failed to finish the Feature race were starting towards the back of the grid, with Herck in 19th place and Nunes two spots further back. With more rain falling overnight and this morning, the Sprint race, the final fight of the 2008 season, began in damp conditions. Although the rain had stopped, the track was still fairly damp. The slippery, greasy track produced the customary first corner drama, although both DPR drivers were able to stay on the track, with Herck in 20th and Nunes in 21st by the end of the opening lap.
As the race laps counted down, the DPR drivers settled into the race, developing a good race pace. Nunes passed team mate Herck to trade positions, and then both made up a place to lie in 18th and 19th after seven laps. With other drivers making mistakes and the DPR drivers settling in to the race they both made up ground, with Nunes finally finishing in 15th place and Herck taking 17th position.
David Price concluded of the final 2008 GP2 event, "It was certainly a learning weekend for our drivers, with the difficult track conditions really adding to the challenge of Monza. Diego was unlucky to have gearbox issues recurring. We thought we're resolved it in Spa, but it returned again and ended his Feature race, which was disappointing as he was running well. Both drivers were always going to struggle to make it into the points today, but they pushed hard from start to finish and we did make up some ground. Both drivers have improved over the course of the season; we've seen Diego take his first points and Michael showing consistent improvement having joined the Series late, so there are plenty of positives to take away."
The DPR team will return to racing action for the GP2 Asia Series later this year.