New GP2 Series team Hilmer Motorsports heads into its first-ever race of the championship with Conor Daly and Pal Varhaug as their drives for the 2013 season opener at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
The names of both drivers were finally disclosed by the official event entry list, which placed Norway's Varhaug in the Hilmer #22 entry and young American racer Conor Daly in the #23.
Both drivers had earlier spilled the beans with postings on the social media network Twitter over the last three days, which had revealed that both were flying to Malaysia and would be in action in GP2 this weekend.
"I will be traveling to Malaysia in some hours. Will be awesome to start on the grid again in GP2 again," wrote Varhaug late on Monday, with his tweets after landing reporting that it was "crazy hot" in Kuala Lumpur.
"Just booked a flight to Malaysia leaving tomorrow," Daly had posted an hour earlier. "So stoked [to] get in GP2 wagon again." With only one team still with unconfirmed race seats, there was little doubt which team they would be working with. On Thursday morning, Daly added: "It looks to be more official now that I see my name on the Hilmer Motorsports #22 car! Getting prepped here on the surface of the sun."
The news was subsequently endorsed by the GP2 Series' official Twitter feed, although there was no immediate formal press release from the team itself, or any further indication about whether the two drivers were running with the team just for Malaysia, or if they had secured a longer full-season deal in the feeder series.
Daly, 21, had already joined Hilmer for two days of testing in the pre-season session at the rain-hit Circuit de Catalunya at the start of March, and even returned at short notice on the afternoon of the third day of the test to benefit from the chance of some dry track conditions. He is the son of Irish former F1 and Champ Car driver Derek Daly, and has spent the last two seasons competing in GP3 with Carlin and Lotus GP. Although he finished sixth in the 2012 GP3 championship and took a race win in Spain, he's currently best remembered for a scary incident last year at Monaco which saw his car launched through the air over the back of Dmitry Suranovich's damaged car and into the catchfence, which caused the sprint race to be red flagged.
Malaysia will be Daly's - and Hilmer Motorsport's - début in GP2 competition. The German-based team took over from Ocean Racing Technology in mid-January, after Ocean had been forced to pull out of the competition due to a lack of funds forthcoming from financial partners that included the Portuguese government.
Pal Varhaug had also worked with Hilmer in the pre-season tests at Barcelona, and he already has a full season of experience in GP2 under his belt. He is making a return to the series after a year away in the Auto GP World Series in 2012, in which he finished as the championship runner-up to Adrian Quaife-Hobbs - who is himself making the move to GP2 this season with another new squad on the grid, MP Motorsport, which replaces Scuderia Coloni on the 2013 grid.