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GP Week : Issue 18
THE two standout talents of the first half of the 2008 GP2 season shared the race winning honours between them at Silverstone. Giorgio Pantano put in one of the performances of his career to win on Saturday while Bruno Senna was peerless in the wet on Sunday to cut back the gap to the Italian in the title chase. But a new threat to the duo made his presence known over the weekend as Lucas di Grassi, who returned to the series in Magny Cours, notched up his second and third podiums of 2008 to enter the fray as a very real title contender. Saturday’s race was held in dry conditions with pole sitter Bruno Senna leading away from the fast-starting di Grassi who barged up to second at the first corner. On the third lap however, Senna caught a huge gust of wind running into Stowe corner and ran wide, handing the lead to di Grassi with Romain Grosjean second and Pantano third. Grosjean was the first of the leaders to pit, with Pantano following suit soon after and emerging right on the Frenchman’s tail. With a comfy lead, di Grassi pitted for his compulsory stop but as he exited the pits he very nearly collected countryman Senna who was entering the box at that very moment. The incident cost Senna a few seconds and knocked him further back down the order, but allowed di Grassi to hold onto his race-leading advantage. The top three then had held onto the status- quo, but it was Pantano who was on a mission. He dispatched Grosjean and set off after di Grassi, pumping in quick lap after quick lap to sit on the Brazilian’s wing and sail past with just a handful of laps remaining. By now Grosjean was struggling with badly flat-spotted tyres, allowing a battle royale to commence between himself, Chandhok, Senna, Andi Zuber and Sebastien Buemi. The group fought for every corner, swapping positions lap after lap. But it was Chandhok who held his nerve, passing Grosjean and shooting off into third for a welcome and deserved podium and some post-race donuts (the type you eat, not the type you spin in your car). Buemi came home fourth, with Grosjean fifth, Senna sixth, Zuber seventh and Luca Filippi eighth for pole on Sunday. The Italian had been struggling all weekend with his car, and come Sunday his problems compounded. The wet conditions just didn’t suit his set-up and he soon lost out to ill-fortune and a dominant Bruno Senna who swept into the lead early on and never looked back to set up by far his most impressive GP2 win to date. Behind him, Lucas di Grassi was again in fine fettle to take second, with Pantano bagging another podium in third. In a chaotic race, local hero Mike Conway came home in fourth, with Vitaly Petrov fifth and Davide Valsecchi a brilliant sixth on his return weekend to the series following his Turkish injury. All that leaves Pantano on top of the standings with 50 points, 11 ahead of Senna. Buemi sits third on 25, just one point ahead of the rampant di Grassi who himself leads fellow Renault tester Grosjean by a point. iSport International lead the team’s championship on 58, five ahead of Racing Engineering with Campos third on 45 points. GP2: Title Rivals Share Spoils 32