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GP2 series kicks off at Imola this weekend

 April 20, 2005

The GP2 series gets its green light in Imola this weekend. At 9.30am CET this Friday, the GP2 series will officially begin with the running of the first practice session for our very first race weekend in Imola. The expectancy surrounding the championship is massive, perhaps greater than for any other single-seater series on earth but for Formula One. As the new feeder category for the world’s premier motor racing formula, the GP2 series will play out its 23 races in full view of the F1 community – both teams and fans alike.

With 24 of the most talented up-and-coming drivers in the world competing for our inaugural championship, the battle is sure to be fierce. With identical cars, engines and tyres at each driver’s disposal, it is grit, determination and talent that will shine through, and whoever emerges on top come the conclusion of our season at our stand alone event in Bahrain, will truly be a worthy champion.

Winter testing has not been without its problems, as every team and driver made bold strides towards understanding their new machinery. But what has remained obvious through it all is how close this championship will be. In final testing in Spain last week, our top 15 drivers were consistently covered by less than a second. If this trend continues into qualifying, and more importantly is translated into race pace, there’s sure to be fireworks.

But who are the runners and riders? Who’s looking quick and who’s looking quicker? Who’s the title favourite?

The answer, is everyone...

iSport International - 1: Scott Speed (USA) 2: Can Artam (TUR)
iSport International stunned GP2 series observers by grabbing the much-desired number 1 for the inaugural season in our series launch in early April. But it really shouldn’t have been that much of a shock. Despite being created specifically to compete in the GP2 series, iSport International is born of a vast amount of experience in a number of other formulas. Under the leadership of Paul Jackson the team is pulling together quickly and is working incredibly well. Red Bull driver Scott Speed has been one of the quickest men in every testing session run thus far, and many are expecting him to challenge for the title. His team-mate Can Artam is the first Turkish driver to compete at this level, and the faith the team shows in him and his potential mark him out as one to watch, too.

Hitech Piquet Sports - 3: Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA) 4: Alexandre Negão (BRA)
Another title favourite is Nelson Piquet Jr. One of three “sons of” in the GP2 series, Nelsinho’s results speak for themselves. As the youngest ever winner of the British F3 Championship his tender years are already filled with the kind of experience that breeds F1 champions. His team-mate is South American F3 champ Xandi Negrão. Together they form a fearsome line-up, and with the newly formed Hitech Piquet Sports team combining the experience of two massively successful F3 squads, the platform may well be in place for a serious title challenge.

BCN Competicion - 5: Ernesto Viso (VEN) 6: Hiroki Yoshimoto (JPN)
BCN Competicion has only been around for two seasons, but the impact Enrique Scalabroni’s team made on F3000 was undeniable. This year the team will run two young and talented drivers who are both aiming for the title. Ernesto Viso has been quite sensational in testing, and the young Venezuelan is determined to make his mark in front of the F1 community. His astounding progression from F3 to F3000 and now to the GP2 series has marked him out as hot property and another favourite. His team-mate is Japanese driver Hiroki Yoshimoto. Hiroki, too, has been very impressive in testing. Not only is he quick, but he’s consistent. Overlook BCN at your peril.

Super Nova International - 7: Giorgio Pantano (ITA) 8: Adam Carroll (GBR)
He may have left it late, but in the end David Sears got the drivers he wanted. And what a pair they are! Super Nova’s pedigree is undeniable, and with one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid, the team is coming into the 2005 season with much expectation. Giorgio Pantano may have got a rough deal in F1, but the cheeky Italian’s class should never be overlooked… nor his passion or fighting spirit. Northern Ireland’s Adam Carroll was the last minute choice for Super Nova, and his signing rekindles the incredible battle which was in evidence last season in British F3 between this very quick British driver, and the man who eventually beat him to the championship, Nelson Piquet Jr.

ART Grand Prix - 9: Nico Rosberg (GER) 10: Alexandre Prémat (FRA)
Born out of the ASM F3 team, and run by Nicolas Todt, the ART Grand Prix team enters the GP2 series expecting much. The French team will be running highly-regarded German ace Nico Rosberg, the son of 1982 F1 Champ Keke Rosberg, and young French prospect Alexandre Prémat. Both these drivers have shown pace and skill in junior formulas, and have impressed in winter testing. The team reports that both drivers are pushing in exactly the same direction and that this, in turn, is helping the team to develop at a very quick rate and high standard. Wins are what the team is hoping for, and with a talented pair of drivers and close-knit team, wins are what they are expecting.

DPR - 11: Olivier Pla (FRA) 12: Ryan Sharp (GBR)
Despite being the team with the longest history in international motorsport, DPR is one of the smallest teams on the 2005 GP2 series grid. The team, however, is united by a strong bond and the kind of dedication and hard work that gets results. Olivier Pla and Ryan Sharp have thus far seemed closely matched in testing, and the team’s good showing in both race number qualifying and the final testing session at Barcelona show just how good these guys could be in 2005.

Dams - 14: Jose Maria Lopez (ARG) 15: Fairuz Fauzy (MAL)
Dams are another team with a long and rich history in motorsport, and it enters the GP2 series hoping to continue this fine tradition. With Jose Maria Lopez at the wheel of one of its cars, it has yet another driver who many pundits are tipping for title glory. The Argentine racer is confident ahead of the season’s start, and will know the majority of circuits we will be visiting having spent 2004 racing in F3000. His team-mate Fairuz Fauzy is something of an unknown quantity but has proved himself to be able in testing. 2005 will be a learning year for the Malaysian, with Dams committed to his future as a challenger in 2006.

Coloni Motorsport - 16: Mathias Lauda (AUT) 17: Gianmaria Bruni (ITA)
Coloni Motorsport comes to the GP2 series with its intentions clear… to step up to Formula One. With an ex-F1 driver, an F1 legend in Sergio Rinland and the son of a triple F1 world champion on board, they are setting out their stall early. Italian Bruni has been very quick in testing thus far, and Mathias Lauda, after competing in two international championships in 2004, is quickly finding his feet. With so many quality line-ups on the GP2 series grid in 2005, things won’t be easy for anyone. But at Coloni, they’ve got their sights set high.

Racing Engineering - 18: Neel Jani (CH) 19: Borja García (ESP)
Racing Engineering comes to the GP2 series on the back of a simply incredible run in Spanish F3 in which it won every championship between 2001 and 2004. The Spanish squad has high expectations to continue this feat in the GP2 series, and with its strong driver pairing it has every reason to be confident. Both have Formula One experience and bucket loads of talent. Both Neel Jani and Borja García should prove quick and are known for their battling qualities and consistency. Certainly a team to watch.

Campos Racing - 20. Juan Cruz Alvarez (ARG) 21: Sergio Hernández (ESP)
Campos is one of the only teams in 2005 who aren’t staking a claim to the title from the offset. But be under no illusions, this team isn’t here to make up the numbers. While the rhetoric may speak of a learning year for the team and drivers alike, there is a fervent passion and desire for success within the squad. With Alvarez and Hernandez the team has two young and exciting drivers, and Alvarez for one has been impressing of late in testing. While the team itself believes the championship is a long shot, the class is there to be able to fight for points, podiums and potentially wins.

Arden International - 22: Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) 23: Nicolas Lapierre (FRA)
As the F3000 benchmark squad, many were surprised to see Arden collect only the 11th fastest time in the qualifying sessions for race numbers at the GP2 series launch in early April. But that’s the thing with this new series… past form has been thrown out of the window and it really could be anyone’s year. To assume that Arden has gone off the boil however would be a foolhardy mistake. This squad is serious about all that it does, and with Kovalainen and Lapierre it has yet another strong driver line-up. Both drivers have been fast in testing. Don’t be duped by their lowly numbers. Arden will be competitive and at this point remain many pundits’ favourite for the inaugural crown.

Durango - 24: Clivio Piccione (MC) 25: Ferdinando Monfardini (ITA)
Durango is hoping for big things in the GP2 series, and the combination of an experienced team and the youthful exuberance of its two drivers could well pay off. In the course of winter testing the team completed more miles than perhaps any other team, and with this in mind, they appear incredibly well prepared for the forthcoming season. Piccione and Monfardini work well together and their friendship and similar direction on car set-up could prove to be the ace up this team’s sleeve.

Press Release
GP2 Series

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