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Giorgio Pantano to fill in for Justin Wilson
16 August 2011
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing have signed up former F1 driver Giorgio Pantano to drive the #22 car in place of the injured Justin Wilson for two of the remaining races of the 2011 season.
Pantano will drive for the team in the Indy Grand prix of Sonoma in California at the Infineon Raceway on August 28, and then a week later will join the IndyCar field a second time, for the maiden Baltimore Grand Prix on the streets of the Maryland city.
"We are extremely excited about putting Giorgio in our car at Sonoma and Baltimore," said Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner, Dennis Reinbold. "Giorgio has a lot of experience and talent and we believe he will be a good fit ... He will add another dimension to our program and we are happy to have him on board for those events."
While it will be Pantano's IndyCar Series début, he appeared in the predecessor Indy Racing League championship with Chip Ganassi Racing for two road course outings in 2005, finishing fourth in the race at Watkins Glen International.
Pantano had a frustrating season in F1 with Jordan-Ford in 2004, having previously come up through the ranks in International Formula 3000. Subsequently he became best known for four seasons of competition in the GP2 feeder series, where he won the championship in 2008 and held the record for most races competed and most races won in the series. He raced in Superleague Formula in 2009 and spent 2010 in AutoGP racing.
"For me, this is a very good opportunity," said the 32-year-old native of Padua, Italy. "I want to say thank you to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and the sponsors for giving me this opportunity. I'm here to do the best that I can as always and I look forward to the chance to compete."
The team said that they would be giving Pantano some test time in the car ahead of the race, with a session this weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
The team added that no decisions had been made on who would drive the #22 for the remainder of the 2011 season, which includes a third road race at Motegi in Japan on September 17, and two oval courses at Kentucky and Las Vegas in October.
So far, French driver Simon Pagenaud stood in for Wilson with 90 minutes notice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, while the team turned to South African Tomas Scheckter to race for them on the one mile oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Pagenaud had previously filled in for Wilson's team mate Ana Beatriz earlier in the season at Barber Motorsports Park, when the Brazilian driver suffered wrist injuries in the previous race at St Petersburg in March.
Scheckter had an impressive start on the Magic Mile at the weekend and was up to third place early on, but then faded and ultimately became involved in a three-way accident with Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan that put him out of the race prematurely.
Scheckter announced at the weekend that he'll also be racing at Baltimore, reuniting for a second time this season with Texas-based SH Racing. The pairing managed to claim eighth place in the centennial Indianapolis 500 in May.
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