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Lancaster joins Melker at Ocean for Sepang
21 March 2012
Ocean Racing Technology's co-managers Jose Guedes and Tiago Monteiro are confident that their squad is heading to the GP2 season opener in Malaysia this weekend with every chance of success.
"We have brought together the necessary conditions to do great things," they said as the team arrived at the Sepang International Circuit ready for Friday's practice and qualifying sessions. "Our technical crew is excellent and our two drivers are great professionals, fast and consistent. We just hope that these qualities will be reflected in the race results."
The Portuguese team recently confirmed that it was handing an opportunity to British driver Jon Lancaster to take the second seat in the opening race weekend of 2012. The 23-year-old from Leeds has already been involved with Ocean's testing programme at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona in Spain earlier this month.
"Words cannot describe how I feel about this opportunity," said Lancaster after the announcement. “I know that I have a lot of work to do to adapt to this new stage in my career, the GP2 Series."
Lancaster hasn't had a full time ride in a series since the end of his second season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2010. Last year, he had one outing in Formula 2 and then two rounds of Auto GP - which included a race win at Donington Park driving for Super Nova Racing alongside Luca Filippi.
"There have been a lot of ups and downs over the past few years," Lancaster admitted. "But now that I have this opportunity, I'm looking forward to getting the job done."
Malaysia will be a tough way to start in the series, with its notorious energy-sapping humidity taking its toll on even the fittest drivers, and a likelihood of thunderstorms threatening the challenge of some seriously wet sessions to contend with.
"The first weekend will be very important because it will be the first time I am racing in a competition in this championship, but also because it will be the first time we can compare ourselves to our competitors and find out where we stand," agreed Lancaster. "I am optimistic and confident."
Lancaster's signing means he will be racing alongside another GP2 Series rookie in 2012, 21-year-old Dutch driver Nigel Melker who was signed up by Ocean before Christmas after what Monteiro and Guedes called "a remarkable season" in GP3 and F3 in 2011.
Melker finished in third place in last year's GP3 championship with victory in the season opener and five podiums during the season with Mucke Motorsport, while also competing for the team in the F3 Euro Series where he finished fourth. He took part in close-season GP2 testing with Ocean and also competed for them in last November's GP2 Final event at Abu Dhabi.
"After the tests we made, I think that we are well prepared for the first race," said Melker ahead of the Malaysian weekend. "The weekend will be difficult, and we are all expecting a lot, but I have to say that with all the work we have done in the past few weeks, I am confident and can't wait to race at Sepang."
GP2 Series action in 2012 begins on Friday, with practice at noon local time (4am GMT) and then the all-important first qualifying session of the year at 3.55pm local time (7.55am GMT). The feature race takes place on Saturday at 11am local time (3am GMT) and the sprint race is on Sunday at 1.15pm local time (6.15am BST).
Live coverage of all GP2 practice, qualifying and race sessions is being shown on the new
Sky Sports F1
channel this weekend.
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