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Dillmann confirmed as Russian Time's first signing
9 March 2013
French driver Tom Dillmann has secured a full-time return to the GP2 Series in 2013, and will be racing for Russian Time, the latest team to enter the series after it took over from iSport International just a week ago.
"I am happy to announce Tom Dillmann has joined Russian Time," said the team principal Igor Mazepa. "I think Tom is a valuable asset to our team."
"I would like to thank Igor Mazepa and Russian Time for this opportunity," responded Dillmann. "I am very pleased to be joining them for this season."
Dillmann, 23, made his series début when he appeared in the post-season GP2 Final exhibition race at Abu Dhabi in 2011, finishing on the podium in his very first sprint race outing. That persuaded Rapax to give him a chance in the 2012 season, and he picked up his first win in the second Bahrain sprint race of the year.
Unfortunately, funding problems meant that Rapax needed to replace Dillmann in the car after the Monaco race weekend, although Dillmann subsequently made encore performances for the team at Valencia and Hockenheim - the former as the result of illness for Rodolfo Gaonzalez, and the latter due to a scheduling conflict for Daniël de Jong who had taken over Dillmann's race seat.
Dillmann made a return to the wheel of a GP2 car at the Circuit de Jerez, topping the times on two of the three days of pre-season testing there with Hilmer Motorsports, before witching to Russian Time for the second leg of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya
"We worked really well together this week at the tests in Barcelona," said Dillmann of this last week's activities. "They are new to the Series, but they have put everything in place to make sure that we are competitive from the start. I hope that my experience in GP2 will help them even more."
The fact that Russian Time is such a new, last-minute addition to the GP2 grid ahead of the season opener in Malaysia on March 22-24 did not overly concern Dillmann.
"I am convinced that we can challenge the other teams and drivers for wins very quickly," he insisted. "I will push 100 per cent to help Russian Time become one of the top teams of the season.”
Dillmann can take comfort in the knowledge that the Russian Time time is largely a rebadged iSport, having acquired much of its assets and equipment - and even some personnel - in the deal to take over that team's GP2 grid spot in 2013. Dillmann's original successful GP2 Final début had been with the iSport team.
"His talent and experience will be key to our objective of taking Russian Time to the top of the standings this season," said Mazepa of the team's first-ever driver signing. "Moreover, I would like to add that I believe Tom can be a title contender this season as well. He has what it takes to win from the start.
"He can also be a very valuable teammate to anybody who wants to make an assault for 2013 GP2 crown as well," he continued.
The team principal added that no decision had yet been made about who would take the second seat in two weeks time in Malaysia: "We're currently looking for our second driver who will help us in our fight for the Series title."
As well as Dillmann, Russian Time also tried out Britain's 2012 Formula Two champion Luciano Bacheta, Switzerland's 2011 Formula Two runner-up Christopher Zanella, and current Sauber F1 test and reserve driver Robin Frijns during their three days in Barcelona.
Other teams still to announce their drivers are Trident Racing and Hilmer Motorsport. There are also single seats still open at Caterham Racing and Venezuela GP Lazarus.
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