iSport International will be backed by Gulf Finance House in the second GP2 Asia Series - and beyond - after confirming the first half of its line-up for the winter championship which begins at the Chinese Grand Prix in October.
The deal sees GFH, one of the most successful Islamic investment banks in the Middle East, enter into a partnership with current GP2 Series champion in what is thought to be the biggest-ever sponsorship deal in the history of the Formula One feeder series. Based in Bahraini capital Manama, GFH has a previous involvement in motorsport, but is keen to widen its sponsorship portfolio as motorsport builds on its popularity both in the kingdom and the region as a whole.
The deal will see iSport run Bahraini national Hamad Al Fardan in the 2008-09 GP2 Asia Series. Al Fardan will be the first Arab driver to compete at anything like GP2 level when he makes his debut at the Shanghai International Circuit on 18-19 October, the 21-year-old having previously raced in FBMW, Toyota Racing Series and both the British and German F3 championships.
“We are very excited to be teaming up with GFH," iSport boss Paul Jackson commented, "It is a very important development for the team which will help us to keep moving forward in the GP2 series.
“We are also delighted to be working with Hamad Al Fardan in what we hope will be a successful campaign to make him the first Arab GP2 champion. He is a very talented young driver and, hopefully, we can help develop him into a future Formula One star.”
Al Fardan admitted that he was thrilled to be joining as successful a team as iSport, which won the regular GP2 'summer' championship with Timo Glock in 2007 and made Bruno Senna a frontrunner in the inaugural Asia Series.
“I am really excited about joining iSport - racing in GP2 with the current champions will be a dream come true and the next step on my road to Formula One," he said, "Of course, my target is to win the championship, but I know there will be some very strong opposition, so I am looking forward to working with the team and I am sure we will achieve good results."