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vd Garde: A great start to the year

1 January 1901


Giedo van der Garde made the best possible start to the 2008 World Series by Renault season, dominating at Monza by qualifying on pole and winning both of the weekend's two races.

The 23 year old, who also celebrated his birthday over the weekend, took the maximum points possible from historic Italian venue as he and the P1 Motorsport team jumped into an early lead in the driver and constructor championships.

The unique reverse grid format employed by the World Series - albeit run without the additional Superpole phase at Monza - saw van der Garde start from seventh in Saturday's opening 24-lap encounter, but that proved little deterrent as the determined Dutchman moved through the field in an impressive display of opportunism and composure.

Having avoided the usual chaos coming into the first corner, van der Garde made up a couple of places on the first lap and, within no time, was chasing Comtec's Pasquale di Sabatino for the lead. Gaining a couple of tenths each lap, the P1 car soon had the Italian under pressure and, on lap ten, carved around the outside at the second chicane to seize the lead. From then, van der Garde was able to pull away to open out a five-second margin by the time he took the chequered flag.

“I'm really pleased with how we performed this afternoon," he said after the podium celebrations, "I got a good start and managed to avoid the trouble at the first chicane. Then I kept pushing to get second position.

"The car felt great and I was able to be late on the brakes and gain a lot of time on di Sabatino. We got close coming into the chicane, but I was able to hold track position and drive around the outside of him to get ahead. It's a great result for the whole team, who did a stunning job.”

Having been quickest in Friday's qualifying session, the 23-year old had pole position for race two, and made full use of it stay out of trouble and resist pressure from behind. Despite having Marco Bonanomi and Robert Wickens rivalling him into the opening sequence of corners, van der Garde exited the chicane in the lead, only to have his early progress checked by an incident later in the lap which brought out the safety car.

For three laps, van der Garde led the field in anticipation of the re-start but, as the green flag waved, found Bonanomi tucked up under his rear wing. The pressure appeared to tell as the P1 car locked up under braking for the chicane, but van der Garde maintained track position, albeit at the cost of flat-spotting his tyres and ruining the handling for the remainder of the race.

With Bonanomi and Wickens then coming together, Alvaro Barba took up the chase, but van der Garde was able to control of the race to flag, completing his perfect weekend with a second win.

“It was my mistake on the re-start and, from then on, I just had to push hard and keep ahead of Bonanomi and, later, Alvaro," he admitted, "I'm obviously very pleased with our results this weekend - the team did a fantastic job this weekend, and worked some long hours, so I cannot thank them enough for making this possible. It's a great start to the year.”

P1 team director Roly Vincini shared his driver's joy at taking the first victories with the latest incarnation of World Series car, and also paid tribute to his workforce.

“The team have done such a great job, they really deserve these two victories," he said, "Giedo did exactly what he had to do, and has managed to come away from Monza with maximum points. With the new car, it's very much a level playing field, and even more important to arrive at the first race prepared - I think we demonstrated that this weekend.”


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