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Monza ready to host title decider.


After the antics of both Valencia and Spa-Francorchamps, the GP2 Series once again boils down to a final round shoot-out, with no fewer than four contenders still in with a mathematical chance of taking the 2008 crown.

Lucas di Grassi and RDD 'rival' Romain Grosjean are likely to be involved in their own little battle for third place, and the possible attentions of Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore, as they go into the Monza finale 18 points adrift of Giorgio Pantano, with 20 on the table and Bruno Senna also keen to claim his share. The top two have been waging their 'war' for much of the season, but it all comes down to two races - plus the bonus points for pole position on Friday - to settle the destiny of the crown.

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Timo Glock all claimed the title on the last weekend of the season and progressed to Formula One, and that is the goal of both Pantano and Senna this time around, although the Brazilian appears to have the edge on his rival in that race. Many believe that the Italian has had his chance, running with Jordan four years ago, while Senna presents a more marketable and media-friendly face (and name), which is why he is being touted as a potential BMW or Toro Rosso pilot for 2009 and Pantano appears to be being ignored.

The veteran, now the most experienced and successful GP2 driver of all time, joined Racing Engineering for 2008 believing that Alfonso d'Orleans Borbon's team gave him the best chance of landing the crown and paving the way back into the top flight, but still finds himself having to prove his potential one last time.

The title could have been wrapped up last weekend in Spa, but fate intervened, restricting both Pantano and Senna to a handful of points that kept the battle alive to the final round. The pair have only added eight points between them over the past two rounds - including a brace apiece for pole positions - and that has allowed the two RDD drivers to retain an interest going to Monza.

In Belgium last weekend, the three strongest title contenders were all hit by penalties or misfortunes that saw the outcome of the season delayed, but Pantano, who was barred from even racing last Sunday, heads to his homeland - and his favourite track - with an eleven-point cushion over Senna, after the Brazilian failed to add race points for the second weekend in succession.

Pantano has won at Monza for three years in a row, and will definitely be the man most expect to have to beat this weekend. With a maximum of 20 points available for the driver who can take the pole, win both races and also set the two fastest laps of the weekend, the advantage would appear to be with the Racing Engineering man but, as GP2 has shown in recent weeks, nothing can be taken for granted.

With five victories to his name, Pantano has been regularly the fastest runners this season, but knows that Monza, as much as any other circuit, has plenty of ways of upsetting the applecart.

“Monza is my home track so, when I arrive there, it always feels very good," he admitted, "I turn up, I jump in the car, I go out on the track - it's almost too easy! It helps that each time I've raced there, I've done well and the way I drive the car is obviously suited to Monza: the way I brake, the line I take, how I hit the kerbs, which kerbs to miss.... For me, it's such a good feeling to be racing there.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Giorgio Pantano - Racing Engineering   [pic credit: GP2 Series]
Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Luca Ghiotto - Trident Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Luca Ghiotto - Trident Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi - Prema Racing
Sergio Canamasas - Carlin
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix

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