Sergio Canamasas took MP Motorsport back to the GP2 Series podium during round five of the season in Monaco on Friday, 22nd May – two years to the weekend since the Dutch team first celebrated rostrum glory in the FIA Formula One World Championship support category.

Experienced GP2 racer Canamasas, in his first season with MP Motorsport, produced a tremendous performance in the Feature Race to secure the team’s maiden silverware of 2015 and the second podium of his GP2 career. In round six on Saturday, 23rd May, the Spaniard added an impressive top four finish to cap a sensational weekend and rocket up the championship table into eighth position.

Dutch team-mate Daniël De Jong delivered strong consistency and impressive pace throughout the entire event but had to be satisfied with a brace of top 12 finishes. Just missing out on the points in round five, he was also very close to the top 10 in round six – just 1.7 seconds shy.

“What a fantastic weekend”, said MP Motorsport’s Tony Shaw, “It’s so important for us to be back on the podium, especially at the most prestigious track on the calendar. Sergio really did do an incredible job all weekend. He was fast, consistent and produced some really great moves in both races. 

“Daniël was a bit unfortunate not to finish in the points, especially in race one, and his pace was more than good enough to achieve that. Both guys have done a really terrific job, as has the team, and the aim now is to use this weekend as a springboard for the rest of the season.” 

Due to the tight confines of the Monte-Carlo street circuit, the running order for qualifying was split in half and both MP Motorsport drivers performed well in their respective sessions – each lapping fifth fastest in the rain-hit grid shoot-out. 

Canamasas started ninth for Friday’s race with De Jong alongside in 10th position but the initial start was aborted due to several stalled cars which led to a partly blocked track. After another formation lap the team-mates got away well, with De Jong moving into eighth ahead of Canamasas, but after dicing wheel-to-wheel into Loews Hairpin the Spaniard moved back in front.

De Jong made his mandatory pit-stop at the end of lap eight, from ninth on the road, and after rejoining in 19th position his car was dramatically assaulted by Nobuharu Matsushita at the exit of the tunnel – the Japanese driver heavily locking up and clattering into the MP car into the chicane.

Fortunately emerging from the incident relatively unscathed, De Jong was inside the top 15 midway through the race and climbed into 12th position before the chequered flag on lap 40 to just miss out on a points finish by little more than a couple of seconds.

Canamasas, meanwhile, remained well placed in the upper order and as drivers began to make their pit visits he moved up into the top five. When a cautionary period was required at mid-distance to enable recovery of a stricken car several of the front-runners pitted – Canamasas among them.

Rejoining the race in eighth position, the MP Motorsport racer moved into sixth as more pit-stops played out and closed up behind the trio ahead as they ran nose-to-tail. After moving into fifth, he then produced one of the passes of the contest – as the race entered its final quarter – to seize fourth from Arthur Pic at Sainte Devote with a brilliant move on the inside.
With the podium tantalisingly close, it became a reality with just a few laps remaining when third placed Julian Leal was given a 10 second penalty linked to his pit-stop. Despite battling rapidly deteriorating super-soft Pirelli tyres, Canamasas brilliantly kept Pic at bay to maintain third place.

In Saturday’s Sprint Race, Canamasas made a decent getaway to hold sixth position but out of Sainte Devote he managed to grab fifth with a very well judged piece of driving. De Jong, meanwhile, made a great start from 12th on the grid and as the field headed to Mirabeau the Dutchman challenged for 10th. Through Loews, however, he was forced out to the wide line and back to 13th place.

Following a Virtual Safety Car period on lap two, racing resumed with Canamasas swarming all over the back of Leal’s car. Then, on lap seven, the MP racer made a carbon-copy repeat of his stunning race one move at Sainte Devote to expertly slice past Leal for fourth. Having been delayed by Leal, the gap to the top three was significant but Canamasas closed to within 2.4 seconds by the finish.

De Jong ran in the thick of a very evenly matched six car train for the first 20 laps, close behind British duo Alex Lynn and Jordan King, but with lap times so similar – mated with the huge difficulty of overtaking in Monaco – no changes looked possible. With five laps left, though, an incident between King and Pierre Gasly enabled De Jong to break into the top 12 where he stayed to the flag.

Austria’s Red Bull Ring will host rounds seven and eight of the GP2 season over the weekend 20th/21st June.