Racing Engineering has revealed F3 Euroseries graduate Dani Clos as the first signing in its bid to retain the GP2 Series drivers' championship crown won in 2008 by Giorgio Pantano.
The 20-year old Barcelona native tested with Alfonso d'Orleans team during the winter test programme, and will now make his GP2 Series debut when the 2009 campaign kicks off in his home town in early May.
Clos began his racing career in the Spanish and Catalan junior karting championships, winning several titles before stepping up to single-seaters in the Formula Junior 1600 series in 2004. Two seasons in Formula Renault followed, racing in both the Italian Championship and Eurocup and culminating in the Italian title in 2006, before he moved up again, to contest the F3 Euroseries.
Finishing twelfth overall with Signature in 2007, more was expected from a move to Prema Powerteam for 2008 but, despite racking up more points and taking a brace of podium finishes, the Spaniard was classified a disappointing 14th in the final standings. Despite that, however, Clos was picked as part of the Williams F1 team's young drivers programme and tested with the Grove-based squad on two separate occasions at the end of last year.
His potential was also recognised by teams at the next level, resulting in tests with a view to graduating to both GP2 and the World Series by Renault for 2009, before Racing Engineering snapped him up as its first signing for what is expected to be an all-new line-up.
“Racing Engineering is pleased to have entered into an agreement with a driver of Dani's talent," team principal d'Orleans commented, clearly believing that the Spaniard could be a dark horse in 2009, "I have always wanted him to race with us, since our days in F3."
"This is a two-year project and, during the first season, Dani will adapt to the category and the GP2 car. However, considering his experience and the fact that he has already driven a Formula One car, it would not surprised me if he came up with some surprises.”
Racing Engineering's accession to the top of the GP2 tree in 2008 was a key point in Clos' signing, with the youngster keen to work with the team that finally delivered veteran Pantano to the title after several years of coming close with other teams.
“For me, it is a great opportunity to be with a team like Racing Engineering, from a personal as well as sporting point of view," he reasoned, "We have been working hard for many years to get to the top, and I believe that GP2 is essential for the improvement of a professional driver.
"It is my priority this year to understand the car as much as possible, and take the most advantage of the experience of a winning team, to reach the highest level. I have a lot of confidence in Racing Engineering's people and believe that it will be a fundamental part of my development to be able to advance and improve with each race.”
The team is expected to announce Clos' team-mate shortly, with several candidates being touted for the second seat.