GP2 » 05 July 2008
Pantano wins Silverstone feature race.
Giorgio Pantano came from fifth on the grid to win a thrilling GP2 Series encounter at Silverstone, strengthening his hold on the lead of the drivers' championship.
The Italian laid down a huge marker to the rest of the field - in particular title rivals Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean - after exploding past his rivals to steal an incredible victory after hunting down Lucas di Grassi with six laps to run. Despite not running right at the front for the majority of the race, the Racing Engineering driver kept his head while those around him in the leading group were losing theirs, managing his tyres and timing his challenge to perfection.
Senna converted his pole position into an early lead, with di Grassi easily muscling his way past a slow Romain Grosjean into Copse, but, three laps into the race, the iSport car was off the road at Stowe after being pushed in too deep by the gusting wind, undoing all of Senna's good work as his rivals went steaming through.
With Alvaro Parente and Andi Zuber showing just how tricky the track and conditions could be, the order continued to shuffle and, even when back up to speed, Senna had to fight hard just to hold position. di Grassi, meanwhile, continued to extend his lead while those behind fought, and was 3.5secs to the good after a dozen laps.
Grosjean was by then back up to second, having benefited from the slips by Senna and Zuber, with Pantano third ahead of the Brazilian and iSport Karun Chandhok, who was picking up places with regularity. The Frenchman was also the first of the frontrunners to make his mandatory stop, a lap before Pantano and two earlier than di Grassi.
They rejoined in the same order but Senna, who followed di Grassi in on lap 17 was further delayed when his countryman exited across his bows. The iSport car rejoined in tenth, albeit with several non-stoppers clouding the true picture
If the first two-thirds of the race had been entertaining enough, it was nothing compared to the remainder, with Grosjean and Pantano closing on di Grassi, and the iSport team-mates attempting to make their way deeper into the points as they chased down a struggling Zuber.
Once Pantano had disposed of Grosjean in a wheel-banging move at Abbey, the Italian was away in pursuit of di Grassi, leaving his prey to fall back towards the group behind, clearly struggling with his brakes, which locked and gave great clouds of tyre smoke at every opportunity.
With Sébastien Buemi piling on the pressure behind Senna, the battle for third had the potential to be a five-way scrap until Chandhok finally got passed Grosjean at Brooklands. The Indian had earlier pulled off a great switchback move at Stowe, only to find yellow flags for Pastor Maldonado's crashed car that obliged him to let the Frenchman back through. Undaunted, Chandhok maintained the pressure before making his move in the stadium section, and was able to take a comfortable podium thereafter.
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