Rapax have confirmed their driver lineup ahead of the 2012 GP2 Series season opener in Malaysia next weekend, with Tom Dillmann and Ricardo Teixeira signing to race for the Italian team.
Both drivers tested for Rapax at the Barcelona test last week. The 22-year-old Frenchman graduates from GP3, where he finished 14th in the standings last year after winning the German F3 Cup title in 2010.
He made his GP2 debut at the non-championship 'Final' at Abu Dhabi last November with iSport, scoring a podium finish in the second race. However, a lack of funding threatened to prevent him from making the step-up full-time.
“I’m delighted to sign in GP2,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy but I never gave up and step by step went my way up here. We have a good connection together with the team since our first test and I’m really looking forward to start the season.
“It will be my first year with 'big cars' but I don’t want to see it as a 2 or 3 years plan, my goal is to be competitive from the beginning, I know how tough it is to just have the chance to race in GP2.”
27-year-old Angolan Teixeira returns to GP2 after racing for Trident in the 2009 season, where he only managed a best result of 14th. He scored five top ten finishes in Formula Two the following year, while he spent last year as a test driver for Team Lotus in Formula 1.
“I would like to say thank you to all the Team for the opportunity they gave me to test in Barcelona,” he said. “Honestly I liked very much the way they made me feel at home.
“The Team is extremely professional and I think I can learn a lot during this year with them and I’m sure together we can achieve good things. It’s amazing feeling to come back to racing after a big stop especially with the opportunity to drive a nice car like this and make part of such good team and a great atmosphere. I hope I can keep making my country proud and represent Angola worldwide.”
Gianfranco Sovernigo, representing the team's owners, added: “We’re proud to have with us two extremely valuable drivers. Dillmann impressed us a lot in preseason testing as he showed to be a motivated and professional guy, with all the speed skills needed to leave his mark in 2012.
“We also liked he great commitment of Teixeira in climbing his learning curve even further and we will contribute in reaching the goals he set. For team Rapax, the deal reached with Ricardo is also a great opportunity to do our part in developing a driver coming from Angola. Despite not having a long motor racing history behind, the Country has been expressing a lot of passion in the recent years.”
The announcement means there is just one seat to be filled before the Sepang races, at new team Venezuela GP Lazarus.