CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR DPR IN GERMANY David Price Racing (DPR), in a third season of GP2 competition, continues its campaign with the sixth round of the championship at Nurburgring this weekend. Drivers Andy Soucek and Christian Bakkerud...
CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR DPR IN GERMANY
David Price Racing (DPR), in a third season of GP2 competition, continues its campaign with the sixth round of the championship at Nurburgring this weekend. Drivers Andy Soucek and Christian Bakkerud are both chasing their first points in 2007 and a strong start for Soucek gave the team some optimism. The hopes turned to disappointment today with both drivers retiring from the Feature race, after Soucek had shown his potential running in fourth position in the early stages.
Soucek opened his weekend with third fastest time in the practice session, although the field of drivers only managed three dry laps of running before a thunderstorm dramatically changed track conditions and shortened the session. This left him unable to gain as much knowledge of the circuit with the GP2 car as he wanted. A dry qualifying yesterday gave the Austro-Spanish driver his only other opportunity to experience the German circuit before the Feature race today and by the end of the session he had produced a strong 12th quickest lap to line up on the sixth row of the grid.
Bakkerud's weekend started less positively with the young Danish driver struggling to find the setup he needed for the track conditions within the limited practice time, finishing 18th quickest. The lack of running and traffic thwarting his attempts for a quick clean lap reflected in his qualifying performance with a disappointing 26th quickest time for the race.
The Feature race today started well for Soucek and a move up to tenth place by the end of the first lap. With rival teams running different race strategies the young driver improved on this position over the course of the opening stint, lying in fourth place after seven laps. The DPR team brought Soucek in for new tyres on lap 12, and after the DPR crew had given him a quick pitstop, he returned to the track, eager to continue fighting for a top ten position. Lying 13th Soucek was lapping at a good pace, but with his brakes starting to fade he was forced to slow earlier for the corners and this led to him having to defend hard. Having fought off a number of attacks by 14th placed driver Ernesto Viso, Soucek was pushed from behind as he finally passed him. Alexandre Negrao was then attacking and in his attempts to pass the DPR driver he was punted aside in an aggressive overtaking manoeuvre. Soucek continued to fight an unbalanced car with acute understeer and increasingly severe brake problems. He pitted to check the brake issue with the team and returned to the track but two laps later, and just six laps from the end he was forced to retire due to the brake issues.
"We had our best qualifying for the Feature race so that's a positive," said Soucek. "However, it's a shame that we had brake problems which developed as the race progressed, so my pace dropped off until I finally had to pit. It's a step forward to be close to the top ten in qualifying and the car was good in the first stint, so although we have a tough task ahead for tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it."
Bakkerud's race was short-lived. A strong start from the DPR driver saw him avoid an incident ahead of him off the line to lie 22nd after the first corner, but he was the innocent victim of another driver's incident which ended with damage to the Dane's car and forcing him out of the race. He said, "There's not much to say about this weekend. Starting from the back my aim was to finish as far forward as possible to get a good a start for tomorrow, but through no fault of DPR or myself, that's not going to be the case."
David Price, Team Principal, David Price Racing, expressed his disappointment, saying, "I really thought we might finally see a breakthrough in our performance level after Andy's strong running in practice and qualifying, but yet again we just didn't have the chance to translate our early pace into race results. Christian didn't get an opportunity to make any gains after a frustrating start to his weekend, so both drivers are starting too far back tomorrow and it'll be a challenge to bring back decent results. We'll give it our best shot though."
The European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring concludes tomorrow with the GP2 Sprint race opening tomorrow's programme and giving the Formula One fans their first racing action of the day at 10.00am local time.