DPR READY FOR A COMPETITIVE SEASON After months of testing and preparation, the 12 teams and the 24 cars they will be racing have now arrived in Imola from all over Europe for the inaugural round of the 2005 GP2 Series. For the British DPR team,...
DPR READY FOR A COMPETITIVE SEASON
After months of testing and preparation, the 12 teams and the 24 cars they will be racing have now arrived in Imola from all over Europe for the inaugural round of the 2005 GP2 Series. For the British DPR team, which is based 35 kilometres from central London, Imola marks an important stage in the company's long racing history.
Owner and Team Principal, David Price, rejuvenated the team at the start of last year to compete in the Formula Renault V6 Championship. This was, however, simply a stepping-stone on the path to DPR's future plans.
David Price: "Andy Miller and I re-formed our single seater partnership in 2004 with the sole intention of competing in GP2, and we are really pleased the organisers recognised DPR as being a team of the right calibre to showcase this new series. We believe there is room for only one senior single seater formula just below F1, and GP2 should be it."
With the most recent test in Barcelona having finished extremely well for DPR, confidence within the team is high although expectations are tempered by realism.
As Team Manager, Andy Miller, notes, "Every test we've done has re-iterated how very competitive the series will be. While we know that our two drivers, Ryan Sharp and Olivier Pla, are more than capable of delivering the results we're seeking, there are also another dozen or more drivers of the same calibre. At the last test, in Barcelona, a second covered the first 15 cars so we are under no illusions about how difficult it's going to be -- not just for this first race, but for every round."
Ryan Sharp, 25, from Scotland, has a slight advantage over his team mate in this opening round in that the Imola track is not new to him. "I enjoyed racing at Imola last year [in Renault V6] and the format of the weekend was very much the same format as this -- a relatively short amount of practice before qualifying. I didn't qualify particularly well last year but came through in the races to finish 6th and 3rd which was encouraging. I would say I know the track reasonably well and am therefore reasonably confident for the weekend.
"The DPR car was good at Barcelona, Olivier proved that, and coming away from the test with such a good showing in the last session (when Pla was quickest) creates a bit of a high for us all going forward to Imola.
"It will be good to finally get to the first race and get started. I think we'll have a better idea of how the season is going to go, probably after qualifying, and definitely after race. It depends on who can adapt quickest to whatever the situation is at the time and I am confident that I can do that -- that will be my focus."
The 23-year-old Frenchman from Toulouse, Olivier Pla, has been using all the knowledge he can to familiarise himself with the 4.9km circuit, including computer simulation software, a Playstation game and studying onboard camera shots. He says, "I am going to Italy early so I can spend time walking round the track. With only 30 minutes of free practice it won't be easy, but I have lots of confidence in myself and the team after our last tests at Paul Ricard and in Barcelona.
"Each time we were on track, with no technical problems, we improved the car all the time. We now have a really good car so I hope we will continue like this for Imola as I want a good result. I hope everything will be okay because we had a lot of car reliability problems in testing, like many of the teams, and we can't afford for this to happen in Imola, especially in free practice. If that happens, it will make it very hard for the whole weekend. We will see."