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|Abu Dhabi young driver test
17 November 2010
Date: Wednesday 17 November 2010
Track: Yas Marina Circuit
Driver: Sam Bird
No of Laps: 82 laps
Best Lap Time: 1:39.220
Kilometres Covered: 455 km
Track Length: 5.554 kms
Weather: Hot and sunny
The Young Driver Test concluded in Abu Dhabi today with GP2 racer Sam Bird continuing his driving responsibilities for the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team on the second and final day at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Following on from yesterday’s programme, Sam and the team continued to focus on set-up development work during the morning to fine-tune the car before concentrating on performance comparisons in the afternoon session. Sam completed 82 laps and finished the day in third place on the timesheets with a best lap time of 1:39.220.
Sam Bird: "Today the team and I continued our set-up programme and had an extremely productive day in which we learnt a great deal about the car. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and I would like to thank everyone at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS for making me feel so welcome, both here in Abu Dhabi and at the factory prior to the test, and for a memorable two days. I hope we will be able to work together again in the future."
Ross Brawn: "Sam has worked very well with his engineers and the team over the course of the two-day test, proving himself to be professional and disciplined in the car, with an excellent grasp of our procedures and our requirements from the test programme. I have been very impressed with his performance and it has been a very useful two days for the team and Sam. I am sure that this experience, both working with the team and driving the car, will prove very useful for the development of Sam’s career."
TIMES (All timings are unofficial)
|MERCEDES GP PETRONAS
|Paul di Resta
|Sam Bird to drive for Mercedes GP Petronas at Young Driver test
29 October 2010
Mercedes GP Petronas: Brackley/Stuttgart
Mercedes GP Petronas is pleased to confirm that Sam Bird will drive for the team at the Young Driver test days to be held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 November.
British racer Sam, 23, drives for ART and will be competing in the final GP2 Series races in Abu Dhabi over the Formula One weekend. Sam is currently in fifth place in the GP2 standings with one win and four podiums this season, including the feature race victory, sprint race podium and both fastest laps at the penultimate race in Monza.
Prior to GP2, Sam competed in the F3 EuroSeries with the Mercedes-Benz DTM partner team Mücke Motorsport and finished in third place at the 2009 Macau Grand Prix as the top Mercedes-powered finisher.
Team Principal Ross Brawn commented: "Sam has done an impressive job in the GP2 Series during his first season. He is the highest-placed rookie in the championship order with some excellent results over the year. We are very pleased that Sam will be joining MERCEDES GP PETRONAS for the Young Driver test next month and are confident that he will provide the team with the essential consistency and feedback we require.
"This is also an excellent chance for Sam to continue his progression in motorsport and widen his experience of Formula One. Sam has been chosen due to his relevant current single-seater pedigree through his competition in GP2, the F3 EuroSeries and British F3 and as an added bonus, he will have experience of the track from his GP2 racing over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. We look forward to working with Sam at the test and to seeing his progress and feedback over the two days."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said: "For the upcoming Young Driver test days in Abu Dhabi, it was important for us to find a young and talented driver with single-seater and preferably GP2 experience. Sam Bird, who competed in the F3 EuroSeries last year with our DTM partner team Mücke Motorsport before he progressed to the ART team in GP2, who are also partners with Mercedes-Benz in F3, fulfils these requirements. With the experience that Sam will gain during the GP2 races in Abu Dhabi, I am sure he will be well prepared for the test."
Sam Bird Profile:
Date of Birth: 9 January 1987
2010: GP2 Series, currently 5th with 1 win, 5 podiums, 1 pole & 5 fastest laps
2009: F3 EuroSeries, 8th & 3rd in Macau GP
2008: F3 EuroSeries, 11th
2007: British F3, 4th & Rookie of the Year
2006: Formula Renault, 3rd & Rookie of the Year
2005: Formula BMW, 2nd
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|J.K Vernay is the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Champion
03 October 2010
Jean Karl ’JK’ Vernay has been officially crowned as the 2010 Firestone Lights Champion after what has been a truly dominant season for the 22-year-old rookie.
The Frenchman, who had never even set foot on American soil before his first Indy Lights test last February, boasts a truly impressive season record.
He won his first two ever Indy Lights races back-to-back at St Petersburg and Barber, went back-to-back again later in the season at Watkins Glen and Toronto, won a total of five races from 13 starts, was on the podium nine times and started three times from pole position.
At the Firestone Indy Lights Awards ceremony in Miami last night, Vernay picked up seven awards: the mini Firehawk Cup, the Herff Jones Award, the Ritmo Mundo Award, the Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year Award, the Gregory & Appel "Securing Tomorrow" Award, the Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge Award and the Firestone Painting Award.
"I’m just proud about the work that we did together at Sam Schmidt Motorsport," said Vernay. "It was a good year, especially for being a rookie in America.
"Now we have to be focused on next year to go to the IZOD IndyCar Series. That’s what my management team at CJMotorsport.co.uk is working on and I will be the happiest guy in the world if I go there."
|Sam Bird powers to crushing victory at Monza
12 September 2010
Sam Bird’s 2010 Monza GP2 Series results sheet reads: front row qualifying, feature race win, feature race fastest lap, sprint race podium and sprint race fastest lap...
The British rookie dominated the meet, notching up a total of 16 points over the course of the event, a 2010 record. In fact, he narrowly missed out on an additional two points having missed pole position by a mere 4/100ths of a second.
In the feature race Sam made a great start to beat the pole-sitter to turn one, impeccably managed two rolling restarts after incidents further down the order and then, with the track back to full racing mode, set fastest lap after fastest lap to gradually opened up a ten second lead to Jules Bianchi in the sister ART car.
He then managed his cushion in the latter stages to take the chequered flag 8.5 seconds ahead of his second-placed team-mate.
Sam’s victory gives ART their first win of 2010 after multiple podiums and is their first ever win at Monza, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg all having failed in previous seasons where Sam succeeded on Saturday.
In the sprint race, starting from eighth by virtue of the reversed grid, Sam made another very good start to take turn one in fifth place and wasted little time in overtaking fellow countrymen Oliver Turvey and Max Chilton for third.
From there he once again set a searing pace, several times improving on his own fastest lap, to catch up to the two men ahead of him. However, although clearly faster than both of them, and despite several overtaking attempts, Sam had to settle for third place, one second behind the winner and 1/10th of a second behind the man in second place, following some spirited defending by the latter.
"It’s been a very productive weekend for me and for ART Grand Prix," said Sam. "That’s good points for me and 29 points for the team, the most they’ve ever scored in a single GP2 weekend, so they are right back in the hunt. I am delighted for them. They gave us both a great car.
"With the pace we’ve had all season I always believed that this sort of weekend was achievable, and it might have come sooner had we not had so many mechanical failures. But that’s in the past. The present is very satisfying and we will look to have another strong round to finish the championship in Abu Dhabi."
|Sam Bird takes pole at Hungaroring
02 August 2010
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sam Bird ART 1m27.864s
2. Davide Valsecchi iSport 1m27.907s + 0.043s
3. Oliver Turvey iSport 1m27.976s + 0.112s
4. Pastor Maldonado Rapax 1m28.134s + 0.270s
5. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1m28.225s + 0.361s
6. Alberto Valerio Coloni 1m28.245s + 0.381s
7. Sergio Perez Barwa Addax 1m28.273s + 0.409s
8. Giacomo Ricci DPR 1m28.277s + 0.413s
9. Michael Herck DPR 1m28.337s + 0.473s
10. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax 1m28.357s + 0.493s
11. Jules Bianchi ART 1m28.375s + 0.511s
12. Jerome d’Ambrosio DAMS 1m28.378s + 0.514s
13. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1m28.483s + 0.619s
14. Charles Pic Arden 1m28.536s + 0.672s
15. Marcus Ericsson Super Nova 1m28.613s + 0.749s
16. Ho-Pin Tung DAMS 1m28.622s + 0.758s
17. Luiz Razia Rapax 1m28.710s + 0.846s
18. Fabio Leimer Ocean 1m28.718s + 0.854s
19. Adrian Zaugg Trident 1m28.727s + 0.863s
20. Luca Filippi Super Nova 1m28.924s + 1.060s
21. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1m28.968s + 1.104s
22. Vlado Arabadjiev Coloni 1m29.141s + 1.277s
23. Max Chilton Ocean 1m29.219s + 1.355s
24. Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden 1m30.129s + 2.265s
|Sam Bird charges forward at Hockenheim
25 July 2010
Sam Bird produced another impressive display of sheer racing ability yesterday as he charged forward from 14th on the grid to finish fifth.
The gauntlet had been thrown down the previous day when he was given a drive-through penalty - somewhat harshly according to some observers - for contact with another driver while fighting for the coveted 8th place, synonymous with the reversed grid sprint race pole position.
This condemned Sam to a lowly 14th place finish and to a tricky mid-pack starting position for the sprint race. With no compulsory pit stop, a top six scoring finish seemed like a tall order.
However, Sam made an excellent start to get up to tenth by the end of the first lap before producing another overtaking festival, reminiscent of Barcelona, that successively left Herck, Filippi, Pic, current Championship leader Maldonado, and current Championship runner-up Clos in his wake.
Sam took the chequered flag in 5th place, just over a second adrift of his team mate, having started the race ten places behind him.
"If I look at this race in isolation, then we have to be satisfied with the final result, given our starting position," said Sam. "However, if I look at the weekend as a whole, I can only be disappointed as we had the pace to be on the podium in both races and score double figures. A special mention to the team, who gave me an excellent car throughout the weekend."
The next round of the GP2 Series will take place at the Hungaroring, Hungary on 30th July - 1st August.
|JK Vernay wins again
19 July 2010
Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay once again drove a perfect race, yesterday in the streets of Toronto. He set pole and scored a flag-to-flag victory, his fourth in the seven rounds in which he has competed. Thanks to this success he has almost doubled his lead in the Indy Lights Championship.
There are no home races for Vernay this season as he is competing on the other side of the Atlantic in the Indy Lights Championship. Six months ago, he knew neither the car nor the circuits. The victory he has just scored in the capital of Ontario has a special psychological importance as he has won on the home turf of his nearest challenger in the championship, James Hinchcliffe. The latter had sworn to take his revenge after being beaten by the Frenchman two weeks ago at Watkins Glen.
Hinchcliffe knew the track like the back of his hand and was quicker than the Sam Schmidt driver in the two free practice sessions by 5/100s and 3/100s respectively. But Vernay had the last word, and snatched pole by 4/100s from the Canadian on the second-last lap of the qualifying session.
The flag-to-flag was anything but straightforward as the pressure put on Vernay by his main challenger for most of the race should not be underestimated. "At the start I suffered a bit of wheelspin and Hinchcliffe and I went through the first two corners side by side. As the track surface was slippery we rubbed wheels, which twisted a suspension component slightly. The car became difficult to control in the right-handers. I slackened the anti-roll bar to make it handle in a more predictable and smoother fashion, and I controlled my speed so as not to degrade the tyres too much." Until half distance, JK’s lead never exceeded one-and-a-half seconds.
Then the safety car came out twice in quick succession, and this enabled Hinchcliffe to close the gap to his rival. Not until the final stages of the race was the driver in the no.7 Dallara-Honda in the Lucas Oil colours able to give himself a little breathing space. "With ten laps to go, the car was handling well and I felt that the tyres would last till the end so I was able to increase my lead." Lady Luck waited until the last lap to provide the final twist. Hinchcliffe was embroiled in a battle with four pursuers stuck to his gearbox; he lost two places after making a mistake in corner no.2 and then retired a little further on after a collision!
"It was a really great race, especially because I know the Indycar Series guys are watching closely what is going on in the lower formula. This circuit requires enormous concentration each time you brake, each time you change down as it’s very bumpy and slippery. It was so easy to make a mistake." JK’s victory was also his sixth podium finish for Sam Schmidt Motorsport. For the first time, his lead is now greater than the 50 points attributed to the winner of each race. Next weekend (24-25 July), he will again be competing in Canada in the eighth round on the streets of Edmonton.
Press release by Romane Didier / future racing commm
|Duncan Tappy takes second place at Magny Cours
13 July 2010
Duncan Tappy continued his impressive showing in Auto GP with yet another podium finish at the weekend, promoting himself to joint-third in the Championship, and helping DAMS increase their lead in the teams’ standings.
The young Brit showed front-running form all weekend and converted his pace by finishing second in the feature race, hot on the heels of former Renault F1 driver Romain Grosjean.
In Sunday’s reversed-grid second race, starting from seventh, Duncan once again combined raw speed, smart decision-making and some sublime overtaking, notably at the Adelaide hairpin, to take the chequered flag in fourth place.
These results meant second place for Duncan in the overall weekend points tally, with 11 points, just one point shy of Grosjean’s winning total of 12.
“Everything fell into place this weekend and we’ve shown the beginnings of what we can deliver”, said Duncan. “The pace has been good, I made some good overtaking moves, my working relationship with my engineer is growing and I feel the championship is up for grabs! It’s been a good weekend, and it’s just a shame we’ve got a long wait until the next race but I’ll be ready to push for the win.”
The next round of Auto GP takes place on the Navarra Circuit, Spain, on September 25th – 26th.
In the meantime, Duncan will be back in action this coming weekend (July 17th – 18th) at Zolder, Belgium, for CJ Motorsport’s “Dream Team”, at the wheel of the Flamengo car, in Superleague Formula.
|Vernay wins at Watkins Glen, extends points lead
05 July 2010
CJ driver J.K. Vernay capitalized on a mistake by James Hinchcliffe on Lap 19 of the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International to take the lead and never look back to win his third race of the season on Sunday afternoon.
The win is Vernay’s third for the year, and it allowed him to extend his points lead over the new man in second-place, Hinchcliffe, to 35.
Starting from third, Vernay moved into the second spot at the start of the race and hounded Hinchcliffe throughout the run.
Following a restart after halfway through the race is when Vernay was able to seize his opportunity and lead the last 12 laps of the 30-lap event.
|A podium and a box full of neutrals for Sam Bird in Valencia
28 June 2010
Sam Bird secured his second consecutive GP2 feature race podium with another impressive drive on his first-ever visit to the streets of Valencia.
In Sunday’s feature race, however, Sam suffered from a gearbox problem and was forced to start from pit lane.
“I was unable to select first gear for the start of the formation lap”, he explained. “I tried to shift up repeatedly but I just had a box full of neutrals.”
“I got pushed into pit lane and still had the same problem but after the team push-started me I was finally able to select a gear and I rejoined the back at the pack.”
“After that, it was just a case of keeping my head down and fighting my way up the order”.
Sam did manage to get all the way back up to finish tenth, courtesy of some smart driving through the customary Valencia chaos and some great overtaking moves on fellow Brits Oliver Turvey and Max Chilton.
He missed out on the fastest lap of the race by 1/100th of a second.
“It was a great shame about today because we clearly had the pace once again and starting from 6th, I do believe that another podium was achievable,” Sam said at the end of the weekend.
“Having said that, we have to take some satisfaction from the podium yesterday and for once again being very competitive. I want to thank my team for a good job throughout the weekend and in particular for an excellent pit stop yesterday. As for today’s gearbox issue, I don’t believe there is any way that they could have anticipated that. It was just one of those things ”.
The next round of the GP2 Series will take place at Silverstone on 9th – 11th July.
|Sam Bird to drive 1974 McLaren and 2010 Williams at Festival of Speed
21 June 2010
Sam Bird will have a busy Festival of Speed as he drives two Formula One cars from two very different eras up the famous Goodwood hillclimb.
Firstly the young Brit, who currently tops the rookie standings in GP2, will be at the wheel of the Marlboro McLaren M23 with which Emerson Fittipaldi won the Formula One Drivers’ Title in 1974.
Secondly, he will step into this year’s Williams Cosworth FW32.
“I’m quite passionate about the history of Formula One so to drive the ’74 title winning McLaren will be a real honour”, said Bird. “I am grateful to Richard Meins for the opportunity”
“I am also really pleased to get behind the wheel of this year’s Williams and I would like to thank Sir Frank, Patrick Head and everyone at Williams for calling upon me again this year”.
“I am not under contract with Williams, or with any other F1 team at this stage, so for them to ask me to drive one of their cars at Goodwood for the second year is a real compliment”, concluded Sam.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place on 2, 3, 4 July 2010.
|Sam Bird scores Istanbul feature race podium
30 May 2010
Sam Bird continued to impress in his rookie GP2 season with a podium finish in the feature race at Istanbul Park, Turkey.
Having qualified fifth on the grid, the young Briton made a good start and immediately overtook iSport’s Oliver Turvey for fourth place on the inside of turn 1.
After a handful of laps, race leader Maldonado had built up a small gap to the Valsecchi-Perez-Bird trio who had themselves pulled away from the rest of the field.
The round of pit-stops produced a positional switch between Valsecchi and Perez but Sam emerged still in fourth place. He then settled into a good rhythm about a second behind GP2 returnees Valsecchi and Perez, who resumed their battle for second place.
Sam would later explain: “I could see Davide (Valsecchi) and Sergio (Perez) fighting hard just ahead of me and both were being quite aggressive on their tyres. I was comfortably staying with them while still pulling away from the guys behind so I decided to look after my own rubber and make my move later on in the race.”
With eight laps to go, Sam made an attempt to overtake Perez for third place at turn 1 and then again at turn 12, where the Mexican forcefully shut the door, causing some damage to the nose of the ART car. However, the Briton would not be denied his place on the podium and finally got his man at turn 7, with three laps to go.
Starting Sunday’s reversed grid sprint race from sixth, Sam once again made a solid start and settled into a strong rhythm. However, from the midway point in the race, he began to suffer from severe rear tyre degradation and blistering, causing him to progressively lose rear end grip and dramatically affecting his lap times.
“To coin the old football saying, it was a weekend of two halves” said Sam at the end of the weekend. “In the feature race, the car felt strong and the podium was a satisfying result.”
“For today’s race, on the other hand, the track conditions were very different and we just didn’t get the balance of the car quite right. In the second half of the race the rear tyres were completely gone so the car became a real handful. We’re obviously disappointed that we couldn’t capitalise on a decent starting position to put some more points on the board. But I’m sure we’ll be back on the pace in Valencia, where ART have had a good car in the past”.
The next round of GP2 Series takes place on the streets of the Spanish city on 26-27 June.
|Duncan Tappy on the podium at Imola
24 May 2010
Duncan claimed his first AutoGP podium at the weekend, promoting himself to joint-third in the Championship and helping DAMS to top the teams’ table.
The practice sessions on Friday had shown promise and the pace continued into the qualifying session. Duncan finished his run on the first set of new tyres in second place. On the next set, however, the car handling changed subtly and he finished the session with a time that put him fourth on the grid for race one and the fastest DAMS driver.
Duncan got a great start in race one but immediately got boxed in and had to hold station. He held fourth place for the first stint before the pit stop, during which a problem with the right rear wheel nut cost him four seconds and two places. He rejoined in sixth but thanks to his pace a consistency, he still managed to recover fourth place by the chequered flag.
Race two was a far more dramatic affair, although Duncan managed to stay away from the worst of it. He got a good getaway while to his left and behind, a major pile-up engulfed over half the field. Following a red flag, the ten survivors restarted under the safety car with Duncan in third. Imola is notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities and throughout the sprint race Duncan made numerous overtaking attempts on Miguez for second but the Spaniard made no mistake despite being visibly slower than the Brit. Duncan even had a last push over the line but was still two-hundredths of a second short.
Duncan said: "It was a good weekend. We got decent points and I’m now up to third in the series standings, level with Filippi and just three points behind Tambay in second. I can’t wait for Spa at the end of June. I’m getting more and more confident with the car and the team and it’s great to be back on the podium so the next step is a win!"
|Sam Bird proves his point in Monaco while Franck Perera shines on his return to racing
17 May 2010
Two CJ Motorsport managed drivers were in the thick of the action this weekend, with Sam Bird competing in GP2 in Monaco, and Franck Perera making his long awaited return to racing in Superleague Formula by Sonangol in Assen, the Netherlands.
For the young Brit, a GP2 and Monaco rookie, the weekend had started well with impressive pace in qualifying. During the feature race, however, while Sam was challenging his team mate for 4th position, a disastrous pit stop by his otherwise excellent team, put an end to his hopes of silverware.
Starting from a lowly 18th place in the sprint race as a result, Sam put in a stunning drive, clocking fastest lap early on, then improving on his own mark a few laps later with three purple sectors and managing the rare feat of overtaking several cars on the streets of the principality (including multiple Monaco winner Pastor Maldonado), to claw himself into the top ten and earn the point for fastest lap.
"Of course, this feels like a missed opportunity because we have showed that he had the pace to score big in both races here", said Bird. "Having said that, I am in no way upset or disappointed with my team. These mistakes happen and are part of racing. They have my full support as I have always had theirs. We win together, we lose together!
"The main positive that I take away from this weekend and that, like in Barcelona, we have excellent pace and if can carry this form onto Turkey and beyond it could be a very interesting season."
Meanwile, in the Netherlands, Franck Perera was making his return to racing in Superleague Formula after almost a year away from the tracks.
Competing in the Flamengo car as part of CJ Motorsport’s multi-driver "Dream Team" concept , the former Toyota F1 Development Driver made it look like he had never been away as he qualified a remarkable 3rd (missing out on a shot at pole position by the narrowest of margins) and finished race 1 in second place.
Starting on the last row of the grid for race two, as a result of the complete reverse grid format, Perera was making excellent progress and was up to 7th when his exhaust broke, relegating him down to an 11th place finish. Second and eleventh was still enough to earn him the third spot for the Super Final although second and seventh would have put him on pole.
With only a 15 minute gap between the end of race 2 and the Super Final, there was no way the necessary repairs could be made on the Flamengo car, and Franck was condemned to a P6 finish in the Final.
"I think that after such a long pause in my career, the performance was not too bad", said Perera. "I have worked very hard in the past few months to be ready for this and I think it has paid off. I took real pleasure in driving this weekend, it was fantastic. This is where I belong!
"I want to thank Robin Webb at Superleague Formula for welcoming me back, everyone at Team Alpha for their hard work and CJ Motorsport for having enough faith in me to pick me for this round. They have just informed me that my performance here has earned me the place for the next race in Magny Cours, so I am delighted!"
|Bird rewrites Barcelona overtaking manual
09 May 2010
It is generally accepted in motor racing circles that “you can’t overtake in Barcelona” but it would seem that Sam Bird never received that particular memo…
Over the course of both of this weekend’s races, in his first ever GP2 Main Series event, the young Briton produced a driving display that Autosport.com called an “overtaking masterclass”.
The event had begun in highly impressive fashion, but one that suggested that serial overtaking might not be on his weekend to-do list, with Bird setting the fastest time in free practice and qualifying third on the grid.
However, at the start of Race 1, a first-corner incident involving three cars forced Sam wide and over the high kerbs to avoid the melee. With a damaged front wing, he had to pit immediately for a replacement and rejoined the track in 21st and last place by a distance.
Bird then set about to produce some lightening-fast laps to catch up to the pack, setting the fastest lap of the race, the bonus point for which would only be awarded to him if he finished in the top 10.
The prospect of progressing from 21st to 10th on a track where overtaking is a rare occurrence, as later illustrated in the Formula One race, seemed like a very tall order, yet Bird got to work and proceeded to pick off his opponents one by one, lap after lap after lap.
Van der Garde, Arabadzhiev, Chilton, Herck, Zaugg, Gonzalez, Valerio, Tung, Kral and Ericsson successively fell victim to Bird’s searing pace and unstoppable overtaking manoeuvres.
Now in the top ten and with third year Series returnee Davide Valsecchi ahead of him in ninth, one might have expected rookie Bird to “know his place” and settle for tenth. But the scalp of the reigning GP2 Asia Champion was too hard to resist and Bird left him in his wake as well at turn 5, renamed “Bird Corner” by Eurosport’s live TV commentator.
Incredibly, despite having pitted once more than everyone else, Bird now had 8th in his sights, a place that would earn him another point and, crucially, pole position for Sunday’s reverse grid.
Leimer’s substantial lead over Sam vanished in a handful of laps but, sadly for the Briton, the race ran out of time and he crossed the chequered flag just 1.6 seconds behind the coveted 8th place.
Starting 9th in Sunday’s sprint race, Bird produced more of the same fireworks, successively despatching Ricci, race 1 winner Pic, Clos and Turvey to take 4th place. Like the previous day, only the time limit of the race prevented him from making further progress up the field to claim what would have been a well deserved podium finish, following a scintillating two-day display.
“I am obviously disappointed to only walk away from Barcelona with 4 points, given the pace we had here” said Bird. “The race one incident really cost me but these things are part of racing, so you just have to accept them and get on with it.”
“But the main thing is that we have shown that we are working very constructively as a team to produce a highly competitive package. The car was really strong car this weekend and I want to say a big thanks to everyone at ART GP for all the support and hard work”.
The next round of the GP2 Series takes place in Monaco, next weekend.
|Franck Perera back in Superleague Formula with CJ Motorsport’s "Dream Team"
29 April 2010
For Episode 2 of their "Dream Team" concept, CJ Motorsport have called upon Franck Perera to drive the Flamengo car in the Superleague Formula by Sonangol round at Assen, Netherlands, on May 14th to 16th.
It will be a return to the Series where he made quite an impression on his first ever outing, competing for AS Roma at Estoril in 2008. Having only just landed from the USA and with no prior mileage in the car (this was race weekend 4 for the rest of the field), the mercurial Frenchman stormed to pole position, to the amazement of fellow competitors and race followers alike.
Perera brings with him a wealth of experience and an impressive track record. He won numerous karting titles including the Junior French Championship and the Junior European Championship in 1998 before being crowned the World Champion (Formula A) in 1999, aged 15. He was one of the first two drivers signed in 2001 to the Toyota F1 Young Driver Program.
Other European career highlights include Formula Renault 2.0 Champion in 2003, F3 Euro Series where he was "Rookie of the Year", a fifth-place finish in Macau and a second-place finish behind Lewis Hamilton in GP2 in Monaco in 2006.
In 2007, he joined CJ Motorsport and embarked upon an American adventure that would see him finish Vice-Champion in Champ Car Atlantics, with 3 wins, 8 podiums, 2 poles, and 12 out of 12 finishes in the top five.
He then graduated to the Champ Car World Series and proceeded to beat Sébastien Bourdais’ Sebring lap record in pre-season testing. Sadly, Champ Car’s days were numbered and in the Championship’s last ever race, Perera qualified P3 and finished 6th, running out of fuel on the very last lap.
He then joined Indy Lights mid-season, scoring 1 win, 2 poles, 2 podiums, 2 fastest laps.
Having attracted the attentions of several Indy Car team bosses, he was handed an opportunity by Foyt to race in the top category. However, with only his talent for currency but no sponsorship backing of any significance, and despite some strong performances, he would only compete three times.
CJ Motorsport Director Serge Celebidachi: "Franck is an exceptional talent and he has proven in the past what he is capable of in a Superleague Formula car, or in any car for that matter! Duncan Tappy did a really good job for us at Silverstone and put Flamengo on the podium, so he will be back for sure in future rounds. In the meantime, he will support Franck from the sidelines, as will Bruce Jouanny, in the true spirit of what we are doing.
"We do have an embarrassment of riches at CJ Motorsport", added Celebidachi. "This feels a bit like bringing Steven Gerrard off the field and replacing him with Franck Ribéry", he joked.
Franck Perera: "I’m really happy to be back. I have raced in many different Championships and I have to say that this is one of my favourites. I even turned down a drive in IRL to be available for Superleague Formula. The car is seriously good, the driver line-up is really competitive, the fans are amazing and the whole team behind the Superleague do an amazing job."
"Duncan ran a good first leg at Silverstone last month" added Perera, "so it’s up to me to take the baton now and run with it... I can’t wait!"
|Hollywood meets ’J.K.’ as Vernay makes it three podiums in a row
18 April 2010
CJ Driver Jean-Karl Vernay made it three podium finishes from three starts in Sunday morning’s Firestone Indy Lights race on the 1.968-mile temporary race course in Long Beach, California.
Vernay was quickest in qualifying but his pole winning time was ruled out, having been achieved with a late local yellow flag on track. However, his next best lap time was still good enough for a second place starting slot.
Aiming for the three consecutive victories after winning the first two events of the season at St. Petersburg and Barber, he was challenged for position going into the first corner and sensibly slotted into third place to avoid contact. While he maintained pressure on the drivers in front of him throughout the race, with the gap to P2 never exceeding a second, he had to settle for third, for a hat-trick of podiums.
Vernay now has a 28 point lead in the Championship.
"This morning the car was perfect in warm-up but then we didn’t really find the sweet spot with our race setup," said Vernay. "But third place is not a bad result and I am happy to be in front in the Championship. I feel pretty good about my season to this point."
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt, said: "Even though we didn’t win, and we were really hoping to win, there are a lot of positives we can take away from this event. J.K. had a good points-paying day. When he can’t win, finishing on the podium is a good thing for the championship. We can build on this and take some good momentum heading into the month of May in Indy."
The next event on the Firestone Indy Lights schedule is the Freedom 100 at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 28th.
|Duncan Tappy on the Auto GP grid with DAMS
15 April 2010
CJ driver Duncan Tappy has signed with the DAMS team to race in Auto GP for the 2010 season. The championship, previously known as Euroseries 3000, begins its season on the weekend of April 24-25 at Brno in the Czech Republic.
Auto GP head Enzo Coloni said: "We are happy to have a british driver in our championship, and most importantly that he’s a very talented one. Duncan already showed what he is capable of, and we’re sure that he has found the right package with DAMS and Auto GP. He already knows the car, and there’s no doubt that he will be very fast straight out of the box."
Duncan added: "I’m very excited about racing in Auto GP and to be with such a great team as DAMS is a fantastic opportunity. I loved my time in the car with A1 Team GB and can’t wait to get on track at Brno. The main thing for me is to have a full racing season ahead if me, which hasn’t been the case for the last two years.
"I am confident that the certainty and continuity will translate into success on track and I want to give another big thank you to my management company CJ Motorsport for making it happen, as well as to Mr Driot and everyone at DAMS and Enzo Coloni at Auto GP for welcoming me into their Championship."
|J.K. Vernay two for two with victory at Barber
11 April 2010
Jean Karl "J.K." Vernay remains undefeated in Firestone Indy Lights after a dominant victory from pole on Sunday afternoon at the inaugural Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, giving him and the team two wins from two races in 2010.
Vernay led all but one lap en route to his victory. At the start of the race, fellow front-row starter Charlie Kimball jumped the green flag and led into turn one, but he soon got the call to let Vernay back through. From Lap 2 on, J.K. never looked back.
The CJ Driver comfortably kept Kimball at bay to win the race on the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park, picking up fastest lap in the process. In fact, courtesy of his pole-setting time, J.K. beat the previous Indy Lights Barber Track Record set by James Hinchcliffe in pre-season.
Scoring maximum points with pole position, race win, fastest lap and most laps led, the Frenchman now has a 33 point lead over second place in the standings, heading into the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend.
Vernay also earned a $5,000 bonus from Firestone for winning two races in a row, having won the season opener on the temporary St. Petersburg street circuit two weeks earlier. Vernay also became only the fourth driver in series history to win the first two races of the season.
When asked if he had imagined opening the season with two wins, JK commented, "I was confident that we’d be able to do well since the beginning of the championship, but to say yes, for sure, we’d win the first two races, no, nobody can say that. The competition level in Indy Lights is very high, and you have to work very hard if you want to get the pole or win the race.
"I’m just very happy because everything worked well. I worked well with my team, my engineer, the crew, everything. The Sam Schmidt Motorsports Lucas Oil Car was great at the beginning, middle and at the end of the race. I was always able to push and to do a good gap against Kimball. We just have to continue to work like that and to do the same next weekend."
|Duncan Tappy claims first trophy of 2010
04 April 2010
Duncan’s 2010 Superleague Formula season kicked off with his debut for Brazilian Club Flamengo following his recent signing with management company CJ Motorsport. Having had little Superleague running in 2009 he made his way swiftly up the learning curve in practice and qualifying. Duncan finished third in his group qualifying session before getting knocked out at the quarter final stage. His speed was enough to give him a very credible fifth grid slot.
With a drying track for the race start, Duncan held position, took time to learn where the grippy and slippy places were on the track and kept to a sensible pace for the conditions. On lap one he managed to pass FC Porto and a lap two spin from Liverpool put Duncan up in second place. After being one of the first cars to make the compulsory pit stop Duncan took his car back up to second. With thirteen minutes to go of the 45 minute race, AC Milan’s Yelmer Buurman managed to pass as Duncan suffered with graining on the front left tyre of his new set. For the remainder of the race Duncan drove defensively to preserve his position and did just that. Despite serious pressure from the FC Porto car of Alvaro Parente Duncan crossed the line in third place.
The second race was more frustrating with reverse grid rules putting Duncan 14th on the grid. Duncan fought battles in a strong pack, including skilled passing of Bordeaux’s Franck Montagny and Sporting Club de Portugal’s Borja Garcia. Again Duncan didn’t have the front end grip he wanted, particularly on his second set of tyres and had to fight hard from start to finish. He crossed the line in 12th place which put him one position short of a Super Final place where the top six points finishers compete for ultimate event victory and over €200,000.
Duncan said: "It feels like being back home here at Silverstone and in the Superleague car. Without a regular drive last year I knew I’d be a bit rusty but it’s all coming back quickly. Race one was tricky and it paid to be sensible. It would have been great to have held onto second but after the first few laps after the pit stop I had trouble with grip so third wasn’t too bad. The second race was very frustrating. I didn’t get a good start and I just didn’t have the pace I needed. I need to look at the data and next time out make the Super Final."
|Duncan Tappy Finds the Formula with CJ Motorsport
31 March 2010
Driver and sponsorship management company CJ Motorsport announced today that they have signed British driver Duncan Tappy for full representation.
“We have been following Duncan’s career for several years and have always felt that he is a genuine talent but lack of funding has often prevented him from displaying this on a consistent basis. However, when he has had continuity he has been utterly dominant and that speaks for itself. CJ Motorsport is always particularly keen to support British talent and in managing Duncan’s career, we will aim to help generate more opportunity and continuity so that he can show the full extent of his talent and regain the necessary momentum to climb up the professional motor racing ladder”, said Director James Olivier.
CJ Motorsport already represent several highly rated racing drivers, including Sam Bird, Jean-Karl Vernay and Franck Perera, and have managed the motor racing sponsorship interests of BP Ultimate UK and Noble Group amongst others.
Tappy will be racing in CJ Motorsport’s Superleague Formula "Dream Team" this season, together with fellow CJ Drivers Perera and Bruce Jouanny.
In an unprecedented and highly innovative approach to the sport, CJ Motorsport will be picking the best and most in-form driver for each round, with the other drivers "on the bench" for technical and moral support.
"To our knowledge, it’s the first time the team ethos is applied to motorsport. It really is taking the football team spirit or even the tennis Davies Cup team approach and applying it to a sport that has been very individual thus far. Our drivers are really excited about the idea and we feel it can be very effective", said fellow CJ Motorsport Director, Serge Celebidachi.
First up, for the Superleague Formula opener at Silverstone this weekend, is local man Tappy.
Twice a McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year finalist, Tappy’s most notable successes came in Formula Ford (Vice-Champion with nine consecutive wins and Winner of the Formula Ford Festival) and British Formula Renault (Champion with ten wins).
Struggling with funding in subsequent years but with a reputation for raw speed and ultra-professionalism, he took up one-off opportunities to race in the Le Mans Series (LMP1), Porsche Carrera Cup, World Series by Renault, Formula Masters, Indy Lights and Superleague Formula, where he achieved three podiums.
"CJ Motorsport has a fantastic group of drivers so I feel very honoured and privileged to have signed with them", said Duncan Tappy. "Racing in Superleague for the CJ Motorsport team is a great opportunity and I aim to drive my best as ever. I’d like to thank Serge Celebidachi and James Olivier for putting their faith in me and I will do my best to contribute to another successful CJ Motorsport season".
|J.K Vernay dominates rain-soaked melee in St. Pete, FL
30 March 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Newcomer to Sam Schmidt Motorsports and a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights, CJ Driver J.K. Vernay took the rain-soaked chequered flag in the downtown city street circuit of St. Petersburg, Florida, on Sunday afternoon in the season’s first race.
J.K. rung out his driving gloves for emphasis after climbing from the No. 7 Lucas Slick Mist/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car on pit lane. The soaking he received in the rain-saturated Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, though, was of little consequence as Vernay dominated in his Firestone Indy Lights debut and took victory for the Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports/CJMotorsport entry.
The race was stopped after just a handful of laps so that competitors could change from slick tyres to rain tyres. When the race resumed, Vernay took the lead and never looked back as he dominated the remainder of the event, leading 31 of the race’s 35 laps.
Vernay, 22, who started on the outside of the front row, held off open-wheel racing veteran Jan Heylen on a Lap 29 restart and went on to an 11.2338-second victory in the shortened (from 45 laps to 35) race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit.
“I didn’t know this track, so I had to learn a lot,” said Vernay, who competed in the Formula 3 Euro series the past three years (two victories and five podium finishes in 20 starts in 2009, including a new track record and a second place finish in the famed Macau Grand Prix).
“It helped with the work I did with my team. We had a great setup on the car. Practice after practice, I was pushing more and more and we were there so it was good. It was hard not to have the pole, but I was very careful on the first lap. I didn’t want to crash at the start of the race. It was great to win in my first weekend in Indy Lights.”
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt, "Anytime we come away with a victory, there’s obviously some form of gratification. That was quite the event. The rain definitely threw everyone a curve ball, but it also gave J.K. the platform to showcase just how talented he is. I’m glad to get the season off on the right foot with a victory, and I hope it’s the first of many for this year."
The debut race victory for Vernay was only the eighth time an Indy Lights Driver has ever won in his rookie debut and the fourth time Sam Schmidt Motorsports has won in St. Petersburg - the 31st overall for the team (including a joint victory with Andretti Green Racing in 2006).
The next Firestone Indy Lights event takes place on April 11 at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, and can be viewed live on indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com.
|Sam Bird lands first GP2 podium
14 March 2010
Sam Bird secured his first GP2 podium today at the Sakhir circuit, Bahrain, with an impressive performance that saw him control second place from lights to flag.
This came on the back of a very strong performance of a different kind yesterday, when Sam, having suffered with a serious clutch issue off the line, slipped down to 20th before fighting his way back up to finish 6th.
Sam had knocked on the door of GP2 honours at his very first ever GP2 event in Abu Dhabi, late last year, with a front row qualifying result and a fastest lap of the race. But a brake failure had robbed him of silverware.
This time, however, the young Brit was not to be denied as he put in a faultless drive, once again securing the fastest lap of the race, to finish his and his team’s GP2 Asia campaign in style.
“I’m slightly disappointed I couldn’t quite go for the win today but a podium finish is satisfactory. My pace was on a par and at times faster than Ricci’s but I didn’t quite have enough rubber left at the end to make a move” said the ART driver.
After a late surge in the championship, following his early season woes, Sam finishes 7th overall and ahead of team mate Jules Bianchi.
“As I have always said”, Sam concluded, “for us it’s all about preparing for the Main Series. This has been an ideal testing and learning ground for the forthcoming European season and I feel I have really gelled with the team. I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone at ART. They gave me a great car today and have given me awesome support throughout this Asia Series. I’m looking forward to continuing working with them and I believe we can achieve great things together“
GP2 Main Series will begin in Barcelona on May 7th to 9th, as the support races to Formula One’s first European race.
|New Horizons for Jean-Karl Vernay
05 March 2010
CJ Motorsport announced today that they have signed driver Jean-Karl Vernay for full representation.
“Having built a solid reputation over the last few years within the Motorsport community by focusing on a select group of super-talented drivers such as Franck Perera and Sam Bird, CJ Motorsport is proud to welcome Jean-Karl into the CJ Driver family,” said Director Serge Celebidachi.
Twenty-two year-old Vernay will be joining Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights campaign.
Previously a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, the Frenchman comes to the American open-wheel series after spending his junior career racing in Europe, most recently in the Formula 3 Euro Series where he won two races in 2009. His most recent career highlight was finishing second in the famed Macau GP late in 2009, on his rookie outing.
US Director of CJ Motorsport Charles Barrett: “For his first season in the US we are very excited to combine J.K.’s experience and talent with the know-how and multiple Championship winning pedigree of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Engineer Tim Neff.“
"I’m very excited to come to America this season to race in Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports," Vernay said. "I also want to thank my managers at CJ Motorsport and my sponsors for making it possible, along with the people at Volkswagen for encouraging me to go."
Vernay has completed four tests to date with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. He has sampled the extreme driving challenges of the Firestone Indy Lights schedule having taken part in his first laps on an oval at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, following that up with laps on the road course at Palm Beach International Raceway, before completing pre-season testing at Barber Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway.
Vernay said, "Our testing has very much focused on development and set-up work. Coming from a different car and different tyres, it’s all about getting the best performance out of the package. From that point of view, we’ve made some really good progress. These few days’ testing have also given my engineer and myself the opportunity to get to know each other better and I believe we can achieve great things together. I can’t wait to get the season started."
"J.K.’s experience and results in Europe are excellent, so we are quite pleased he has decided to further his career in the United States," team owner Sam Schmidt said. "We tested him at Homestead and Palm Beach and everything just clicked. The chemistry between JK and the team was excellent from the start and we’re confident he’ll be a great fit for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports organization in 2010."
Though new to racing in America, Vernay is no stranger to competitive open-wheel racing. He has spent the last few years in various Formula 3 and Formula Renault series, along with having done four races in A1GP with Team France between 2006 and 2007.
"There are not a lot of drivers who have the potential to win the Firestone Indy Lights title in their first season when transitioning to ovals," Charles Barrett, one of Vernay’s managers at CJ Motorsport, said. "After watching JK’s first oval test and also knowing that he came in second in Macau in his rookie outing last year, I have no doubt that he has the racing talent, experience, and guts required to be a leading contender for the championship in his first season."
Sam Schmidt Motorsports has been the dominating force and all-time win leader of Firestone Indy Lights, having won 30 races to date (including one joint victory with Andretti Green Racing in 2006 and four Freedom 100 victories) and three driver championships. The 2010 season kicks off on the streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 28, 2010. Coverage of the event will be available on indycar.com. For more information, visit www.samschmidtmotorsports.com.
For more information on Firestone Indy Lights, visit www.firestoneindylights.com.
|Bird battles back in Bahrain
28 February 2010
Sam Bird showed impressive skill and determination to clinch a hard-earned fourth place in Saturday’s GP2 Asia race in Bahrain.
Starting a lowly 13th on the grid after suffering from serious tyre degradation the previous day, the ART GP driver had to take evasive action off the start in order to avoid getting caught up in the lap one chaos. This briefly dropped him down to 17th. However, he then began to make his pace count and commenced his fight back by slipstreaming four cars in a single move by the end of the lap.
With the competitors now “settled” into position, Bird’s ensuing march up the order was the result of a series of individual battles, the highlights of which were his successive overtaking moves on Vietoris, Piscopo, Turvey and Zampieri to secure a very creditable finish at the foot of the podium.
“On Friday we didn’t get the balance of the car right so we really struggled for pace and absolutely destroyed our tyres”, said Bird. “But great credit to my engineer and the whole team. They gave me a very good car today and I knew that I if could stay out of the mid-pack trouble at the start, I had the ability and the package to work my way up the order over the course of the race.”
“Of course it’s nice to do well and score points in these races but for us it’s all about being prepared to compete at the front in the Main Series. From that point of view, we are very much using the Asia Series as a training ground, in terms of my understanding with my engineer, putting best sectors together in qualifying, maximising the tyres and perfecting the pit stops. It’s very useful for us to be able to experiment on a few things at this stage and the aspects that have not worked are just as valuable as those that have. I feel we’re making really good progress.”
The next round of the GP2 Asia Series will support Formula One’s opening race in Bahrain, on March 12th to 14th.