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DAMS and Valsecchi on Sepang Pole

Davide Valsecchi

Sepang has seen the 2011 Champions DAMS continue where they left off as Davide Valsecchi secured Pole Position for the opening race of the season.

Valsecchi, who was shown plenty of speed throughout the winter tests backed up his pre season form by setting his benchmark time early in the session and wasn’t beaten throughout the remainder of the qualifying session.

Valsecchi said about his pole position: “First of all, I’d like to thank my engineers and mechanics who have given me such a well-prepared car. I’m very happy for them – and also for myself – but the job isn’t done yet as we’ll have to confirm our performance in the race. In any case, we’ve got off to a great start.”

Team-mate to Valsecchi at DAMS is the 2011 British Formula 3 Champion, Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr. He gave the French outfit more reason to smile after qualifying tenth for his debut GP2 race. He will line up ninth after another driver recieved a grid penalty.

Nasr added: “My tenth place isn’t too bad but I’d have liked to do a bit better. This being said it’s my first race in GP2 and I’d like to thank my team for all the help they’ve given me. I’ll do my best to give them a good result this weekend.”

The qualifying performances show that the team will be right in the thick of the Championship battle, and with the blend of experience and youth, it sets the team up well for a successful 2012 season.

DAMS CEO, Jean-Paul Driot added: “Obviously we all feel very satisfied not only because of the pole position, but also because of the overall result of our two drivers. I’d like to congratulate them and the whole team who have laid down a marker right at the start of the season.”

DAMS Confirm Haryanto and Melker for Abu Dhabi.

DAMS have today announced the two drivers who will race for them in the non Championship GP2 Final over the 12/13 November.

Having secured the 2011 drivers title with Romain Grosjean, the team have confirmed that they will enter GP3 Series Graduates Rio Haryanto and Nigel Melker for the finale, as both the team and drivers prepare for the 2012 campaign.

Indonesian driver Haryanto is in his fourth season of Motorsport, and he is only eighteen. The 2011 campaign saw him racing in GP3 and in Auto GP with DAMS, and he finished seventh in both Championships, as a race winner in both.

Haryanto said about moving into GP2 with DAMS: “I can’t wait to compete in my first GP2 event. I’m sure that the experience will help me for the 2012 season. I’m also very grateful to Pertamina for its unwavering support which has helped me to continue at the topmost level.”

Team-mate at Abu Dhabi is another GP3 Series race winner, Nigel Melker. The twenty year old Dutchman finished inside the Championship top three after securing a victory and five other podiums during the season. He finished fourth in the F3 Euro Series as well.

“First of all, I am honoured to drive in the 2011 championship-winning car,” said a delighted Melker. “I would like to thank the team for this opportunity and the chance they have given me. I am really thrilled to race at the Formula One event in Abu Dhabi. This is a good opportunity for me as a rookie to get to know the team and to obtain more experience in this challenging series. Last month, I obtained very positive results during the GP2 test days. Besides this, I am happy to be competitive again in 2011 as I am aiming for a good result.”

Both Haryanto and Melker have been selected by the Championship winning outfit and they will have their opportunity to prove themselves in the next level during the final two GP2 races of 2011.

DAMS general manager, Loic David is pleased to have secured two of the brightest GP3 talents for the Abu Dhabi races, having been impressed with them during the post season tests: “We’re delighted to welcome a couple of new talented drivers from GP3 for the 2011 GP2 final in Abu Dhabi. After our successful season that ended with the conquest of the drivers’ title, we’re determined to play a leading role thanks to these promising youngsters who both put on good performances during the end-of-season tests.”

DAMS Confirm Their Formula Renault 3.5 Series Entry.

GP2 Drivers’ Title winners DAMS will join the Formula Renault 3.5 Series ranks for the 2012 season after they were one of the thirteen teams selected for the World Series by Renault event.

The Ruaudin based squad will join the series with two of the new for 2012 cars as they challenge other top line drivers in the closely fought Championship, and prepare them for the main feeder series to Formula One, the GP2 Series. Their entry into Formula Renault 3.5 is a strong statement of intent as they chose to miss the GP2 feeder series, GP3.

In preparation for their return to the series, the team have teamed up with EPIC Racing for the forthcoming tests, as the new cars aren’t due to be delivered until January 2012.

DAMS Owner, Jean-Paul Driot said about the announcement: “We’re very honoured and proud to have been chosen by Renault Sport to take part in the next Formula Renault 3.5 Series Championship in the context of the World Series by Renault. With a brand-new car and top-level teams the competition will be very stiff in 2012. But taking up challenges is part of DAMS’ DNA, and we hope to be among the best as well as allowing talented youngsters to show their mettle!”

The series will undergo another evolution as it continues to grow. A completely new car will be used – it was unveiled to the public at Silverstone and features a brand new 3.4 litre V8 engine from Zytek, which replaces the V6 used this season.

With the new engine comes more power – the current engine produces 480 bhp while the new engine will have 530 bhp, while weighing in 15kgs lighter than its predecessor, at 610kgs.

It also incorporates technical improvements which have been inspired by Formula 1 as well as the Drag Reduction System, used in Formula 1.

A new six speed sequential gearbox will be introduced alongside a pneumatic clutch, the latest carbon brakes and specially developed tyres from Michelin while the front and rear wings will also be different compared to those used in 2011.

EPIC Racing and DAMS Join Together for end of season tests.

As the Formula Renault 3.5 Series heads from strength to strength, GP2 Champion team DAMS have decided that the series is worth investigating ahead of the 2012 campaign.

The 2011 campaign concluded yesterday at Barcelona and DAMS were one of the pre-selected candidates for the 2012 campaign.

Ahead of a possible entry for 2012, the team has decided to join forces with regular Formula Renault 3.5 outfit EPIC Racing for the up-coming end of season tests. This is so the DAMS Mechanics, drivers and engineers got a feel for the series ahead of 2012.

The partnership between the two teams is just for the end of season tests – two days at Barcelona, three hours engine use and two days at Motorland Aragon – and DAMS are aiming to take part in the 2012 campaign when the new car is introduced.

General Manager of DAMS, Loic David said: “We’re very happy with our partnership with EPIC. This team had a great three days at the WSR final here in Barcelona this weekend, as well as a very good championship with Albert Costa finishing fourth overall in the general classification. We hope that we’ll enter for the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series, and this partnership gives us the opportunity to test some drivers for next season with the help of EPIC’s technical back-up.”

It isn’t just DAMS who will benefit from the partnership, as EPIC Racing will also benefit as they will get to test three drivers ahead of the 2012 campaign. Both outfits are facing a win/win situation.

EPIC Racing Team Manager Claudio Corradini said about the announcement: “I can’t wait to put this synergy with DAMS into operation. I hope that at the end of this brief partnership we’ll be in a better position to tackle the 2012 season.”

Selected for the tests has been Rio Haryanto, who will be in the #11 car for both days. Haryanto has won in both GP3 and Auto GP this season and tested for DAMS during the recent GP2 test at Valencia.

Sharing the #12 car will be Nico Muller, another GP3 race winner who tested with DAMS during the GP2 test. The Swiss driver will drive the car during the opening day while the second day will see 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Podium finisher Cesar Ramos takes over the car.

Auto GP provides five drivers for Jerez GP2 Test.

Auto GP will be represented by five drivers when the first GP2 test gets underway at Jerez in Spain tomorrow. After the announcement that Kevin Ceccon would test for Scuderia Coloni as his prize for winning the under 21 Championship title, it has been confirmed that four other drivers will be at Jerez who race in Auto GP.

Also testing for Scuderia Coloni is GP2 vice Champion Luca Filippi and Fabio Onidi while joining Drivers’ Champion team DAMS are Rio Haryanto and Giovanni Venturini.

Filippi will head into the test looking to continue the form which he and the team showed over the second half of the season, where they secured three wins en route to finishing second overall.

He will head into the Auto GP finale at Mugello over the 1st/2nd October looking to make up the 15 point gap to those ahead of him and he can’t be ruled out of contention yet.

Joining Filippi at Scuderia Coloni is second year Auto GP driver Onidi – who had secured a victory and five other podium finishes and this test will be the perfect opportunity for the 2008 Euroseries Formula 3000 vice Champion to demonstrate his talents in the best feeder series for Formula One.

Venturini made an immediate impact on Auto GP, when on his series debut at Monza he secured Pole Position and then the victory during the opening race. He has backed up his Monza results with another victory at Oschersleben and a podium finish at Hungaroring. He will drive the car which took Romain Grosjean to title glory for DAMS.

The fourth Auto GP driver involved with the GP2 test at Jerez is double GP3 race winner, Indonesian Rio Haryanto. Haryanto has been involved with the Auto GP Championship since the start of the season and he secured his maiden Auto GP Victory for DAMS at Valencia, and they have decided to test him in their GP2 car.

“I’m really happy to see that some of the best drivers in Auto GP are progressing quickly towards GP2,” explains Enzo Coloni. “I’m also happy to see that they will all get the chance to work with two outfits that actually are the performance benchmarks of the series. This means that the high competitivity of the Auto GP field is appreciated at the highest levels of motorsport, and confirms that racing in Auto GP can open some very interesting opportunities for young talents.”

Grosjean and Dams Celebrate Tenth Podium of 2011 GP2 Season.

The conclusion of the 2011 GP2 Series came at Monza on Sunday morning with Romain Grosjean coming out as the Champion while the team finished second in the teams’ Championship.

Friday afternoons qualifying session didn’t go according to plan for Grosjean as he ended the session fifth fastest, having been baulked on each of his flying laps. Starting from the third row for the Feature race, the newly crowned Champion soon moved himself up into third.

Once he was third, he was unable to make any further progress as he was unable to get ahead of fellow Frenchman, Charles Pic – despite being visibly faster than the Barwa Addax Team driver. He had to settle for third at the flag.

His third in the feature race meant that he would line up sixth on the reverse grid for the final race. His race was all but ended at the first chicane as he was hit up the rear and lost his rear wing. He lost two racing laps as this was replaced and he finished the season down in P22, with the second fastest lap of the race to his name.

Grosjean said after the race weekend: “A big thanks to the whole team who gave me quick cars throughout the season. We worked very hard and our efforts have been rewarded. I’m pleased to give the team another podium at the last round. We’ve accomplished our mission and I’m proud to have won this title, something I really wanted to achieve.”

Team-mate Pal Varhaug had his strongest GP2 race weekend to date at Monza, as he finished P11 during the feature race after a solid qualifying session. He then finished the final race of the season inside the top ten, in tenth – having made a good overtaking move on Adam Carroll at the end of the race.

Varhaug said about his race and congratulated Grosjean on his title: “Congratulations to the team and to Romain again, they really deserve their title. For me the last two races of the season have been very encouraging. I was better in qualifying and in the race I fought without making any mistakes. I hope I can capitalize on these results in the future.”

Dams General Manager, Loic David added after the final race at Monza: “I’d like first of all to congratulate the whole team. We’ve won two’ GP2 championships, the Asian and the main one, and that doesn’t happen often. It’s a well deserved reward as everybody’s done a remarkable job and the car was among the most consistent of the front-runners. Finally, a big bravo to Romain who proved his mastery, his speed and the consistency of a champion.”

Grosjean Secures P4 for Dams.

Romain Grosjean leads Dani Clos in the race for P4 at Spa

After securing the 2011 GP2 Series Crown during the GP2 Feature race at Spa-Francorchamps, Romain Grosjean brought the #11 Dams car home fourth to add some more vital points for the teams’ championship.

After the dry to very wet Feature race, it came as a nice surprise to find the Ardennes Forest circuit bathed in sunshine ahead of the Sprint race at the Belgian circuit. The race itself was once again hectic – this time due to the sheer amount of overtakes which were pulled off.

Having finished third the day before, Grosjean lined up sixth on the grid and he made up two positions quickly before slipping back down to sixth. He then fought his way back up to fourth on the final lap and with one extra lap; he would have secured a double podium finish.

Champion Grosjean said after the race: “I’m happy to have added more points to the team’s tally. I had a good race this morning, but we have to continue finishing in the points to move up to the front in the teams’ classification. I’ll do my utmost at Monza to give DAMS a second title. They really deserve it!”

Pal Varhaug saw his race compromised at La Source on the opening lap. Under braking, Giedo van der Garde touched the young Norwegian’s car, which forced him wide and a number of other drivers slipped past as Varhaug dropped down to eighteenth positions.

After the contact, he was unable to make any headway as the handling of the car was affected in the La Source incident. He took the flag in eighteenth position and after the race, said: “It was all decided at the start. I collided with van der Garde in the braking area at La Source and I lost a lot of positions. After that I didn’t feel good in the car and I wasn’t able to pull back places. I hope things will go better at the last round of the season in two weeks!”

Loic David, the General Manager of Dams said after the Sprint race: “It was a fairly hectic race! Overall, it’s a good result as we’re now only eight points behind the leader in the teams’ classification. DAMS again did a good job and Romain drove an intelligent race. We still have another target to achieve at Monza.”

Dams head to Monza over the 9/10/11 September looking to score the points required to give them the 2011 GP2 Teams’ Championship.

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Champion! Grosjean Secures GP2 Title with Dams.

Romain Grosjean spraying his way to Championship success.

Dams saw Romain Grosjean add the GP2 Main Series title to the GP2 Asia Series crown which he secured earlier in the season at Imola. Finishing third at the Ardennes Forest circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Grosjean secured the title with three races of the season left.

Dams General Manager, Loic David said about the Championship win: “My heartiest congratulations to everybody. Today was a day to avoid making mistakes and all the team members did their job perfectly. They chose just the right moment to call in Romain for the tyre change and the pit stop was perfect. Romain drove a champion’s race. Our second title of the season is a just reward for the whole team’s efforts.”

As per the norm, Grosjean was setting the early pace as he topped the Free Practice session by seven tenths of a second. Qualifying was a different story as Grosjean could only finish P8 in the wet session, before being promoted to seventh after Charles Pic was disqualified.

This meant that Grosjean started from the clean side of the circuit and he made a rocket getaway and made up three positions heading into La Source, and he moved into third at the top of Raidillon from Marcus Ericsson. He held on to the position despite the rain and thanks to a well timed strategy, he retained third after the pit stops and he finished on the podium to bring home the 2011 GP2 Series title.

Grosjean describes the success as “an incredible feeling”, as he explains: “It’s an incredible feeling! I’m just so happy to have won the title today. A big thanks and all my congratulations to the whole team. DAMS has been the best this year. As I knew that my main rival was behind me there was no sense in tempting fate this afternoon, above all in such difficult conditions. We now have to finish the season with a flourish!”

Team-mate Pal Varhaug had another disappointing qualifying session. He lined up twenty second on the grid but drove a solid, fault free race to bring the car home in thirteenth position.

Varhaug said after the race: “First of all, my sincerest congratulations to Romain. He fully deserved his title. I’m happy with my race. Once again I had a tough qualifying session, but I didn’t make any mistakes in the race and I could have made it into the top ten, it’s for the near future!”

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Dams and Grosjean Continue Their Winning Streak.

Romain Grosjean and Charles Pic Celebrate a French 1, 2 in Hungary.

Romain Grosjean and the Dams team are celebrating another victory in the 2011 GP2 Series as they took advantage of the penalty given to Ericsson to secure their fifth win of 2011 and with it, a Championship advantage of twenty three points over their nearest rival.

Friday Morning Free Practice saw Grosjean exercise his usual dominance, even if it wasn’t as dominant as it had been last time out in Germany. Qualifying turned out to be a different story as he was held up on his flying lap and was left a frustrating fifth on the grid.

Thankfully for Grosjean and the team, it all came together come race day. The Frenchman made a good start to make up two positions and the team’s strategy meant that he gained another position, leaving him second. Second soon became first when Ericsson was given a drive through penalty. After that, the Dams team leader never looked back as he extended his Championship lead even further.

A delighted race victor said afterwards: “It’s super! The team did a great job. I knew the car was very quick, and I was also able to gain a place thanks to the pit stop. I’m really happy. We’ve got a good lead in the championship, and I’ll do my best to consolidate it tomorrow before the August holiday break.”

For team-mate Pal Varhaug, he was six tenths slower than Grosjean in qualifying, a result which left him twentieth on the grid. Undeterred, the young Norwegian driver took advantage of another good strategy to record a thirteenth place finish, his best result for a few races.

Varhaug said about his race: “It wasn’t perfect by any means but I feel a lot better than at the Nürburgring. I’d like to thank the team as they helped me to pull back places in the race thanks to good strategy. I’ve still got to work on my pace in qualifying. Hopefully, I’ll soon start finishing in the points.”

Dams General Manager, Loic David added to what the team’s driver’s said: “Another great race by the whole team who really deserve a medal! The strategy was perfect, the pit stops impeccable and Romain kept up a searing pace throughout the race. It all came together. And also congratulations to Afanasiev and the Auto GP team for their win today. A perfect Saturday for DAMS!”

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

No Sign of Grosjean’s Dams Breaking.

Bianchi leading Grosjean - Grosjean had the upper hand in the end.

Dams and their Championship leading team leader, Romain Grosjean had a very fruitful trip to Germany and the Nurburgring. Having finished third in the feature race, he secured the victory in the Sprint race to open up an eighteen point lead at the top of the Championship – thanks also, in part, to his main rivals having bad weekends.

Grosjean had a pretty successful race on Saturday – having started third on the grid, he was soon passed by Jules Bianchi. After that, a combination of consistent performances and a faultless pitstop helped him back onto the third step of the podium.

Sunday’s sprint race was started on a damp track and Grosjean made a cautious start to the race, starting in sixth after his feature race result. He soon made up positions, thanks in part to mistakes from his rivals, Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird.

The race soon settled down with a three way scrap for the lead, between Grosjean, Bianchi and Filippi. After they switch to the slick tyres, the three of them were soon running wheel to wheel.

Grosjean’s victory saw secured on the penultimate lap after Bianchi made a small error at the chicane. This mistake enabled Grosjean to drive away and record his fourth victory of the 2011 GP2 series.

Grosjean said about his weekend: “This victory feels really good! Yesterday, if I‘d started from pole, which was possible, we could have won. Today it was just sheer pleasure. It was very close at the end, but when I saw the opening in the chicane I went for it! My thanks to the whole team who did a super job. We’ve opened up a lead in the championship, and we have to continue the good work in Hungary before the August holiday break.”

For Pal Varhaug, his feature race ended as soon as it begun after contact with Kevin Mirocha. The second race of the weekend saw the young Norwegian work his way up as high as seventh before dropping back as his tyres went off. He finally finished seventeenth.

Varhaug said: “A very tough race. I’ve never really liked the Nürburgring, but I’m partly to blame for Saturday’s collision. Today, we bet on the rain coming back at the end of the race and I stayed on wet weather tyres till the flag. This helped me pull back places in the middle of the event, but at the end my tyres were completely shot. I hope that Lady Luck will smile on me in Budapest!”

General Manager of Dams, Loic David added: “A big bravo to the whole team, in particular for Sunday’s victory. We had a good first race helped by a clever, well-executed strategy. On Sunday, the car was well set up, which wasn’t obvious in the changing conditions. And of course, Romain’s talent and race craft made the difference!”

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service.