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GP Week : Issue 25
GP2: Fuel farce overshadows Campos double LOCAL Valencian GP2 team Campos Grand Prix took back to back victories at the inaugural GP2 series races on the city’s new street circuit, but the wins were overshadowed by a farcical fuel situation that left the two championship rivals stranded by the side of the road on the final lap of Saturday’s blue ribband event. Giorgio Pantano had arrived in Valencia with a seven point advantage over Bruno Senna, which became nine when the Italian stormed to pole position with a blistering lap which his rivals were unable to answer. Come Saturday’s race, there seemed to be no stopping him. Pantano flew off the line and set about establishing a comfortable lead over Campos’ Vitaly Petrov, while Pastor Maldonado fell to third from the front row of the grid. The first lap wasn’t even over before the Safety Car was deployed for Kamui Kobayashi and Ho-Pin Tung, and it came as good news to the teams. Fears had been raised before the race that, due to the length of the track, the 125 litre fuel tank would be on the limit for a full race distance plus the warm up laps to the grid. For that reason, teams were allowed to refuel on the grid, although almost all remained hopeful of at least two Safety Car periods to slow fuel consumption. Alas, this was to be the only one. The race got back underway quickly and as the pit-stops panned out, Romain Grosjean got ahead of Maldonado and up into third. The duo fought tooth and nail for position, and it was the Venezuelan who 32 won out, barging his way past in a thrilling contest. Pantano looked all set for the win until, on the last lap, his Racing Engineering car ground to a halt, allowing Petrov through to a win he could never have dreamed to have been his. Maldonado came home second with Grosjean third. Bruno Senna had worked his way up to fifth, which became fourth when Pantano spluttered to a halt … and then ninth, as he too ran out of fuel. Crazy doesn’t quite sum it up. So to Sunday’s race, and with all the madness in Race 1, Luca Filippi started from pole. The race that panned out was a brilliant one, as he was hounded lap after lap by his former team-mate Romain Grosjean, with Lucas di Grassi sitting in third, awaiting the inevitable. Grosjean and Filippi aren’t what one would term as best mates, and the battle the two of them endured was gripping. Ultimately Grosjean got past, but in an act half born of desperation, and half of resignation, Filippi nudged the Frenchman out at Turn 2. Di Grassi blasted into the lead and took the win ahead of Filippi and Jerome d’Ambrosio, but Filippi would have his points stripped from him with a 25-second penalty which was applied after the race for his move on Grosjean. That lifted Pantano into third, on a day in which Senna crashed out. The results of the weekend leave Pantano with command of the championship on 70 points, 12 ahead of Senna with just two rounds of the 2008 championship left to go.