David Price Racing (DPR) has called up Olivier Pla for the Monza round of the GP2 Series with regular driver Christian Bakkerud being forced to sit out this weekend with a continuing back problem.
Pla joins Andy Soucek, who has been driving with the DPR throughout the season. The French driver is no stranger to the Surrey-based race outfit, having competed successfully in GP2 with the Direxiv DPR in 2005-06, and recording two wins for the team in his first season.
Bakkerud suffered with a trapped nerve in his back earlier in the season, forcing him to retire from the Barcelona sprint race. Following medical treatment, the young Dane was able to continue his GP2 campaign, until a recurrence of the problem in Hungary sidelined him again. It was hoped that additional therapy during the summer break had alleviated the problem, but on his return to the track in Istanbul, Bakkerud struggled with further pain and was unable to take the start of the two races.
The DPR driver travelled to a clinic in Austria in efforts to return to full health, but after trialling his back in a go-kart yesterday, the back pain continued and he had no option but to withdraw from this weekend. “I’m disappointed that I can’t race in Monza” said Bakkerud, “but I have to try and resolve this completely and the only way is to have more rest. I hope that I’ll be back in the driving seat for Spa.”
Pla is pleased to be driving with a team he knows well, and says, “I would like to say a big thanks to Dave Price for giving me this chance to drive with him again. I hope I can have a strong weekend and bring him and the team a good result. I’ve recently tested the 2008 GP2 car, but it will be great to be reunited with the DPR car, with which I’m familiar.”
Soucek is looking forward to the Monza-Spa back to back races and is eager to turn around his fortunes, with two strong finishes this weekend. He explains, “we’re running out of races to score points, so we need to make a step up in Italy. I’ve had better qualifying runs recently and that’s an area that can really help us. The DPR team also had a good result here last year with a podium finish, so I hope that this success can be repeated this weekend”
David Price, Team Principal, DPR, adds, “We’re really disappointed that Christian is still suffering with his back, but we hope that he’ll be ready to get back in the car for Spa. However, we’re grateful to Olivier for stepping in at the last minute. We’ve all worked together before, so that should make it easier for us all. With our third place at Monza last year, perhaps we’ll be able to use this experience to achieve a much- needed points finish.”
The Formula One supporting GP2 Series kicks off in Monza on Friday morning with official practice and an afternoon qualifying session. The main feature race after F1 qualifying on Saturday precedes the F1 race day sprint event.
– Alison Hill –
06.09.2007 / MaP