Pantano takes first win after Magny-Cours epic Giorgio Pantano has scored his and Petrol Ofisi FMS International's first ever GP2 series win, taking the chequered flag by half a second from Nelson Piquet Jr following one of the best races of the...
Pantano takes first win after Magny-Cours epic
Giorgio Pantano has scored his and Petrol Ofisi FMS International's first ever GP2 series win, taking the chequered flag by half a second from Nelson Piquet Jr following one of the best races of the 2006 season to date at Magny Cours this morning. The Italian drove a faultless race to resist Nelson's fiercest challenges, and the pair crossed the line nine seconds ahead of Alex Premat, who had driven out of his skin to take the final podium spot after falling off the track at the very first turn.
Race Report: Ferdinando Monfardini led the field away as the lights went out, fending off the challenges of Lucas di Grassi and Giorgio into the first turn. Behind them, Alex tangled with Xandi Negrão and slid onto the gravel, falling back to 15th. Lucas was looking determined however, and flew past Ferdinando at the Nurburgring chicane on the first lap, the Italian taking too much curb, flying across the gravel, into the barriers and out of the race. At the end of lap one Lucas led Giorgio, Nelson, Jose Maria Lopez, Xandi and Timo Glock as Alex sat 14th two spots behind his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
One lap later and the order was changed again, with Giorgio flying through Lucas for the lead, as Alex made up four places, taking Lewis' scalp in the process. Xandi dropped out with damage sustained in his lap one clash with Alex and Jose pulled off half way around the third lap. Nelson meanwhile had caught and dispatched his compatriot Lucas and set off after Giorgio. Alex, too, was on an absolute mission, passing Pla and gunning for the points with the Ardens and Piccione's DPR in his way. He made easy work of them all, putting in a brace of quick laps and ballsy overtaking manouevres.
At the front, Nelson had caught Giorgio and the pair would run for the remainder of the race with less than a second separating them as the Brazilian threw all he could at the leader. Timo and Lucas battled for third but Timo made his move and passed the Durango car, which was clearly lacking the speed that the cars around it carried. Alex was through moments later and off after Timo, dispatching the German after an enthralling duel which lasted almost the entire length of the lap as the two ran side-by-side for corner after corner.
But Giorgio was hanging on at the front, and as Nelson ran wide in search of the extra tenths to get close enough to the Italian for an attempt at taking first place, Giorgio's first victory in the GP2 series looked safe. He crossed the line half a second ahead of a battling Nelson, with Alex nine seconds down the road inththird. Timo ran home fourth with the point for fastest lap in his pocket, Lewis was fifth having started 19 and Lucas finished sixth after a plucky race to take his first double points haul of the season.
What about the championship? Lewis now leads on 70 points, with Nelson second having cut the deficit to 14 points. Alex is third on 48 with Timo now fourth on 28. Ernesto Viso sits fifth on 26 points with the Arden duo tied for sixth on 25 points. In the team's championship ART Grand Prix leads on 118 points, with Piquet Sports second on 64, iSport International on 55 and Arden International fourth on 50.
1st Giorgio Pantano Petrol Ofisi FMS International 40:55.810
You know, that made me so happy because it is not since 2003 that I have been on the top of the podium, and I was starting to think what's happening, why am I not going back to the top? This team is great - they are good, we are good, and we just have to put everything together.
2nd Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet Sports +0.500
Giorgio did a very good race, and he deserved to win. If it was an ART car I would have tried a lot harder, maybe gone crazy in the last laps to try to overtake him at the last corner, but there was not reason to do it.
3rd Alex Premat ART Grand Prix +9.667
To be on the podium in both my home races is incredible and I'm so happy for all my fans, friends, sponsors team and family that we can celebrate here at Magny Cours. What a race!