Tom Dillmann has become the first driver to join the new GP2 Series squad RUSSIAN TIME ahead of the 2013 season.
The Frenchman ran with the German-based squad at the final pre-season test at Barcelona, while Robin Frijns, Christopher Zanella and Luciano Bacheta filled the second seat.
It was an impressive three-day run for both Dillmann and RUSSIAN TIME, with the former notching up 150 laps, although much of the test was hampered by changeable weather conditions throughout.
With the opening round of the series now less than two weeks away, RUSSIAN TIME have certainly given themselves precious little opportunity to fully prepare for the season start; however Team Principal and Founder Igor Mazepa is clearly aware of the enormity of the task ahead.
“We know that it will be a challenge to be quickly on par with the other teams, but we have managed to put together a group of people whose experience in GP2 will be invaluable and we are pretty confident that we will do a good job from the get-go.”
RUSSIAN TIME’s entry into the category was initiated when long time participant iSport International withdrew last month citing an inability to secure suitably budgeted drivers to fund their efforts.
A successful investment banker, Mazepa was elected as Chairman to the Board of the Ukrainian Exchange in 2008, eventually leading him to be named as the best manager of his nation’s stock market by rating house Economy.
Mazepa also enjoyed notable stints with Russian-American company Prospect Investments, Foyil Securities New Europe and MFK Interregional Financial Company, before founding Concorde Capital in 2004, eventually leading the company to be one of Ukraine’s banking services.
Mazepa’s deep pockets could mean RUSSIAN TIME may not need to worry so much about taking on drivers with a budget – a delight for Dillmann who lost his seat with Rapax last season when his sponsorship ran dry.
For Dillmann, the relief is clear: “First of all, I would like to thank Igor Mazepa and RUSSIAN TIME for this opportunity.” He continued, “They are new to the Series, but they have put everything in place to make sure that we are competitive from the start. I hope that my experience in GP2 will help them even more.”
It is safe to say buying a GP2 Series team is something of a sideline for Mazepa; however the desire to promote Russian and other Baltic state drivers through to the higher echelons of single-seater racing rests behind this buy out.
Motopark Academy’s Timo Rumpfkell will lead RUSSIAN TIME’s racing effort. The German has helped the likes of Scott Speed, Sebastien Buemi and Valtteri Bottas climb the ranks to Formula One, while other graduates include Antonio Felix da Costa, Brandon Hartley, Felipe Albuquerque and Frank Kechele.
Meanwhile ART Grand Prix pilot James Calado and Stefano Coletti (Rapax) displayed timesheet topping pace during this weeks GP2 Series test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Coletti headed the times on the opening day, but it was Calado quickest through a wet morning session; an effort the Englishman repeated on the following morning. As conditions deteriorated through Wednesday, Johnny Cecotto Jr brought his Arden machine to the top of the sheets. Coletti proved quickest on the final day, with Carlin’s Felipe Nasr showing his hand in the afternoon.
Red flags became commonplace as conditions varied throughout the test. Rio Haryanto, Kevin Giovesi, Rodolfo Gonzalez, Cecotto Jr, Daniel Abt, Riccardo Agostini, Julian Leal, Rene Binder and Ma Qinghua all suffered offs or light spins.
The opening round of the 2013 GP2 Series goes live in two weeks time at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
2013 GP2 Series 2nd pre-season test (Barcelona; March 5-7; combined times) Pos Driver Team Time 1. Stefano Coletti Rapax 1m29.055s 2. Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1m29.217s 3. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1m29.381s 4. Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1m29.453s 5. Jolyon Palmer Carlin 1m29.467s 6. Sergio Canamasas Caterham 1m29.611s 7. James Calado ART 1m29.624s 8. Kevin Giovesi Lazarus 1m29.812s 9. Tom Dillmann Russian Time 1m29.843s 10. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1m29.862s 11. Mitch Evans Arden 1m29.902s 12. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP 1m29.914s 13. Robin Frijns Trident 1m29.951s 14. Daniel Abt ART 1m29.994s 15. Daniel de Jong MP 1m30.037s 16. Robin Frijns Russian Time 1m30.053s 17. Pal Varhaug Hilmer 1m30.300s 18. Johnny Cecotto Arden 1m30.323s 19. Conor Daly Hilmer 1m30.417s 20. Rene Binder Lazarus 1m30.454s 21. Julian Leal Racing Engineering 1m30.601s 22. Jake Rosenzweig Addax 1m30.620s 23. Simon Trummer Rapax 1m30.667s 24. Riccardo Agostini Hilmer 1m30.724s 25. Rio Haryanto Addax 1m30.813s 26. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident 1m31.029s 27. Ma Qing Hua Caterham 1m31.035s 28. Luciano Bacheta Russian Time 1m32.712s 29. Christopher Zanella Russian Time 1m53.772s (wet session)