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Monza: Pantano fastest in GP2 practice
Giorgio Pantano has started the weekend in fine style at his home race by claiming the top spot on the timesheets in the last minute of free practice at Monza, putting himself ahead of Luca Filippi and Adam Carroll.

Pantano's final lap was run in a time of 1:30.914, displacing his Italian rival after a session long fight with a lap that was almost three tenths faster than Filippi's best, with former teammate Carroll a further two tenths back.

The session began under typically clear Italian skies, with temperatures hot but nowhere near the peaks of the previous two weekends in Turkey and Hungary. With most of the teams running very low rear wings, and all cars on the harder Bridgestone tires, the initial challenge was always going to be staying on the fast circuit while the tires came to the drivers.

It was a challenge that Markus Niemala was unable to answer: after leaving the pits he spun off track just after the first chicane, finding the wall on the inside of the track and removing his front wing before rolling back onto the track, bringing out the local yellow flags and his session to an early end.

Filippi set the early running with a first flying lap of 1:34.082, but the times were soon tumbling as drivers picked up tows from the other cars around them, working in conjunction as they took it in turns to pull a fast lap. Xandi Negrao was soon on the top of the timesheets after grabbing a tow from teammate Roldan Rodriguez, with Timo Glock, Filippi and Carroll soon fighting it out for the top spot.

The session was being split in half by many of the teams, running qualifying trim for one half and race trim in the other. For example, Glock took on board a lot of fuel before heading out halfway through the session, while Filippi, who had run a very high rear wing in the first half, dropped his wing before heading out for the second half. The move clearly worked, and the Italian had the top spot again 2 laps later.

But it wasn't to last. Pantano was soon faster, just, than his rival, and the fight was on for bragging rights ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session. Filippi came back with the first sub 31 lap at 1:30.914, picking up a nice tow but not setting any fastest sectors: with under two minutes remaining it looked to be enough, but Pantano went one better just as the checkered flag was dropping to claim the top spot for himself.

Behind the top three Lucas di Grassi, Andi Zuber and Negrao all ran strong laps to keep themselves in contention, while championship leader Glock was down in 11th after concentrating on his race set up in the second half of the session. But with the battle this fierce in free practice, qualifying promises to be a no holds barred war for pole position later this afternoon.

Pos Driver       Time     Behind
1  G. Pantano    1m30.626 -
2  L. Filippi    1m30.914 0.288
3  A. Carroll    1m31.139 0.513
4  L. Di Grassi  1m31.381 0.755
5  A. Zuber      1m31.466 0.840
6  A. Negrão     1m31.498 0.872
7  M. Conway     1m31.539 0.913
8  S. Buemi      1m31.638 1.012
9  N. Lapierre   1m31.739 1.113
10 B. Senna      1m31.778 1.152
11 T. Glock      1m31.815 1.190
12 B. Garcia     1m31.838 1.212
13 K. Chandhok   1m31.892 1.266
14 A. Zaugg      1m31.901 1.276
15 K. Hirate     1m31.987 1.361
16 M. Martinez   1m32.029 1.403
17 V. Petrov     1m32.106 1.480
18 K. Nakajima   1m32.116 1.490
19 J. Tahinci    1m32.311 1.685
20 H. Tung       1m32.396 1.770
21 R. Rodriguez  1m32.464 1.838
22 R. Risatti    1m32.649 2.023
23 J. Villa      1m32.717 2.091
25 A. Soucek     1m32.922 2.296
26 N. Markus     - -

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