A DAMS Good Weekend in Monte Carlo

by Paul Hensby

Perfection rarely happens in motorsport, but last weekend in Monaco, DAMS came extremely close to that. Competing in both the GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 Series’ at the circuit, they took home three victories from three races, after taking pole positions in both qualifying sessions, and topping both practice sessions.

In GP2, Briton Jolyon Palmer continued his championship leading form by taking pole position for the Feature race, and despite regular interruptions for safety cars and even a red flag during the race, took the victory on Friday.

Team-mate Stephane Richelmi finished eighth in the Feature race, and that gave him the pole for the sprint race, and the Monegasque driver did not put a foot wrong and took his maiden win on Saturday.

“A huge thank you to the team which again gave me an excellent car,” said Palmer. “I’m in seventh heaven! Every driver dreams of winning in Monaco after setting pole. The first race wasn’t easy. There were quite a few incidents but I never lost control of the situation.

“I knew the car was quick and I was able to manage the tyre wear right till the end. There’s still a long way to go in the championship so we have to remain focused.”

“I’m sure you can imagine the joy I’m feeling today,” exclaimed Richelmi on Saturday. “My first victory in front of my family and my friends on home turf. I dreamed about it and we did it. It’s an enormous reward for the whole team that gave me such a great car. My thanks to everybody from the bottom of my heart.

“I’ll never forget this moment. But we’re not going to stop now that things are going so well. The championship really begins here for me. You get a taste for the topmost step of the podium and I hope to be back there again as soon as possible!”

In Formula Renault 3.5, it was Frenchman Norman Nato rather than the more fancied Carlos Sainz Jr that took the spoils. Nato topped the free practice session, took pole position and then led every lap for his maiden series win.

Sainz Jr should have started on the front row alongside his team-mate but was penalised two grid spots for blocking a rival in qualifying, and finished fourth on the road after the street circuit offered little opportunity for the Spaniard to pass the ISR Racing machine of Jazeman Jaafar.

“At last! What a fabulous sensation and how happy I feel to have won the race in Monaco after setting pole,” said Nato. “A big thanks to the whole team which kept its confidence in me despite the fact that it took a long time for the results to come.

“This victory on the most prestigious circuit in the world isn’t an aim in itself, but a start! Our work paid off today and it should continue to do so over the rest of the championship. It all fell into place in Monaco so I aim to take full advantage of this momentum at Spa, next weekend.”

“It’s really a pity that I was given that grid penalty otherwise I could have been in front and the team would have been rewarded with a one, two finish for its fantastic work,” added Sainz Jr. “I really tried to pass Jaafar, but I never found a good enough opening and I thought about the championship. My closest rivals were behind so I decided to take the points on offer. The team won and that’s what really matters.”

DAMS Managing Director Francois Sicard was ecstatic about the weekend the team had in both series. He couldn’t ask for more from his drivers or team as they dominated the whole Monaco event in GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5.

What a fantastic weekend,” said Sicard.It’s just amazing! This year DAMS has taken over Monaco. It’s a huge pleasure and I take off my hat to the team for having drawn the right conclusions from the past.

“It’s difficult to dream of better. The technical team did an almost perfect job like the drivers. In its 26 years DAMS had never clinched pole in Monaco or won the main race. So we’re absolutely over the moon. Jolyon has been sensational all weekend and we’re very pleased and also a bit emotional about Stéphane’s maiden victory. He’s deserved it for a long time and it’s happened in the best possible place for him. It’s the first of many and it was probable the trigger he needed.

“Norman’s victory was another emotional one. We know just how talented he is and he’s really shown it today. It’s just the start for him. Once again Carlos proved his intelligence and didn’t take any unnecessary risks in view of the championship. There’s still a long way to go, but that’s how you become a champion.” 

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