7 May 2015
GP2: Hilmer returns with Yelloly and Cecotto
Hilmer Motorsport returns to the GP2 starting grid this weekend with Nick Yelloly and Johnny Cecotto Jr. as its drivers for Barcelona.
The GP2 grid will be back to full strength this weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, which hosts the second round of the 2015 season.
Hilmer Motorsports were forced to miss the season opener at Bahrain last month, but has confirmed that it will be back in action after signing Nick Yelloly and Johnny Cecotto Jr. as its two drivers.
Yelloly will be the tenth rookie to join this year's GP2 line-up as he graduates from racing in GP3. He made his début in GP3 with ATECH CRS GP in 2011 and picked up his first series podium at his home race Silverstone, but the following year he moved to Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Comtec Racing.
The 24-year-old then returned to GP3, racing first with Carlin in 2013 and then moving to Status Grand Prix in 2014. After picking up seven more podium positions over the course of the two seasons, Yelloly finished off 2014 with a flourish when he won the final Sunday race of the year at Abu Dhabi.
Cecotto meanwhile is certainly no stranger to GP2, having made his first appearance in the feeder series with David Price Racing in 2009 at Monza as replacement driver towards the end of the season. He then went on to compete in GP2 for the next five years, starting with Trident Racing before moving to Ocean Racing Technology in 2011 then Barwa Addax Team and Arden International, before returning to Trident again in 2014.
Cecotto has chalked up four wins over the year in GP2 (at Monaco, Hockenheim, Barelona and the Red Bull Ring) amid a total of nine podium appearances. However he'd looked to have called time on his GP2 career in favour of a new challenge in the Auto GP World Series, making his first appearance with Zele Racing last weekend at the Hungaroring.
It will be a relief for GP2 organisers to see Hilmer back on the grid this weekend after the team was absent for the first round of the year, which team principal Franz Hilmer put down to a lack of suitable drivers being available to help fund the team at Bahrain.
"There are currently no drivers available on the market that bring a sufficient budget which would allow a GP2 team to organise a race weekend," Hilmer had said at the time. "We have been in negotiations with many drivers before the season, but with none of them we were able to reach an agreement that would have provided our team an adequate budget. The situation is like that, how can we change it?
"In the junior categories there is no for-free-racing, unless a manufacturer or companies like Red Bull support it," he had continued. "The potential drivers are currently not blessed with the necessary backing.
"It is extremely difficult in motor racing nowadays. Missing the first race weekend if of course a setback for the team after setting the fastest time in the afternoon session on the last day of pre-season testing in Bahrain. The cars are ready to go, and they are fast too as we have seen in testing. But it is just not possible if the current driver market won't allow it," he summed up.
This weekend's GP2 action gets underway with a one-hour practice on the 2.892-mile, 16-turn circuit commencing at noon local time (11am BST). Qualifying will be held at 3.55pm (2.55pm BST) with the 37-lap feature race being held on Saturday at 3.40pm (2.40pm BST). The shorter 26-lap sprint race will get the green flag on Sunday morning at 10.35am (9.35am).
This weekend also sees the first round of the GP3 Series with practice on Friday evening at 5.50pm (4.50pm BST), qualifying on Saturday morning at 9.45am (8.45am BST) and the first 22-lap race later in the day at 5.20pm (4.20pm BST). The Sunday race will consist of 17 laps and will get underway at 9.25am (8.25am BST).
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