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Seats still open as Ricard test starts

The 2009 GP2 Series campaign kicks off in earnest with a three-day test at Paul Ricard this week, but there are still a few questions that remain to be answered ahead of the first race, in Barcelona, in May.

The French session will see the 13 competing teams get to grips with the 2009 season updates to their Dallara-Renaults, while several have still to finalise their line-up for the coming year.

Chief among the technical changes are changes to the engine. Built on the existing block and crankshaft, the 2009 engine has completely new cylinder heads and top half in order to improve cooling of the cylinders and, hence, provide a substantial gain in the sustained power, while reducing performance throughout the entire rev range. This should allow the teams to make better use of the engine's power curve, and could deliver an additional 25hp over the entire rev range.

While reigning champions Racing Engineering and Campos - soon to be renamed Addax - will be present with their new combinations of Lucas di Grassi/Dani Clos and Vitaly Petrov/Romain Grosjean respectively - and in Racing Engineering's case, a whole new look courtesy of backers Fat Burner - three teams have yet to ink contracts for both seats.

While Davide Valsecchi is confirmed at the former, Durango, Trident and DPR have still to announce their 2009 formations, but will go at least one step closer to possibly finalising them at Ricard, where rising French talent Nelson Panciatici will join Valsecchi, and Superleague Formula 'champion' Davide Rigon will continue his Asia Series tenure with Trident. The Italian will be joined by Hamad Al Fardan this week, as the Bahrain national aims to prolong his stay in the category, after wintering with iSport in the Asia Series. DPR, meanwhile, will appear at Ricard with the familiar pairing of Michael Herck and Giacomo Ricci.

“I am happy to be able to take advantage of this three-day test at Paul Ricard where, in 2007, I tried a GP2 car for the first time,'' Rigon commented, ''For this, I want to thank Trident Racing and team principal Maurizio Salvatori who, after giving me the possibility to race in GP2 Asia, have given me the chance to continue. My objective for this season is to be present on the grid from the first double-header in Barcelona. At the moment, we are looking for the budget required but, in the meantime, I will be doing my best over these three days to collect as much data as possible with which to develop the car.''

Among the other novelties will be seeing Arden's two cars running with Telmex title support following its deal to run Mexican Sergio Perez alongside Edoardo Mortara, and Tiago Monteiro's recently-acquired Ocean Racing Technology operation make its regular series debut after assuming the entry held by BCN Competicion during the Asia Series. Racewinners Karun Chandhok and Alvaro Parente will make ORT a potential threat to succeed where BCN failed.

Alberto Valerio, at Piquet GP, Luca Filippi and Javier Villa - both at Super Nova - and Luiz Razia, at FMSI, are the other most recent confirmations who will begin work with their new teams this week.

All drivers will be given the chance to drive on the medium, soft and supersoft Bridgestone tyre compounds, with each day of the test using a different track layout to mimic the various circuits that the series will visit during the season.

The confirmed line-up for the test is as follows:

1. Vitaly Petrov Barwa International Campos Team
2. Romain Grosjean Barwa International Campos Team
3. Giedo van der Garde iSport International
4. Diego Nunes iSport International
5. Roldan Rodriguez Piquet GP
6. Alberto Valerio Piquet GP
7. Lucas di Grassi Fat Burner Racing Engineering
8. Dani Clos Fat Burner Racing Engineering
9. Pastor Maldonado ART Grand Prix
10. Nico Hulkenberg ART Grand Prix
11. Sergio Perez Telmex Arden International
12. Edoardo Mortara Telmex Arden International
14. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing
15. Javier Villa Super Nova Racing
16. Jerome d'Ambrosio DAMS
17. Kamui Kobayashi DAMS
18. Hamad Al Fardan Trident Racing
19. Davide Rigon Trident Racing
20. Andreas Zuber Fisichella Motor Sport International
21. Luiz Razia Fisichella Motor Sport International
22. Davide Valsecchi Durango Corse
23. Nelson Panciatici Durango Corse
24. Karun Chandhok Ocean Racing Technology
25. Alvaro Parente Ocean Racing Technology
26. Michael Herck DPR
27. Giacomo Ricci DPR


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Davide Rigon - Trident Racing [pic credit: GP2 Series]
Luca Ghiotto - Trident Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Luca Ghiotto - Trident Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (FRA, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (FRA, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (MON, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (FRA, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Nicholas Latifi (CAN, DAMS) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday 3 December 2015. Nicholas Latifi (CAN, DAMS) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday 3 December 2015. Nicholas Latifi (CAN, DAMS). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday 3 December 2015. Antonio Fuoco (ITA, Trident) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday 3 December 2015. Antonio Fuoco (ITA, Trident) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

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