Status Grand Prix, the Irish GP3 Racing team, still hold an outside if slim chance of winning the inaugural GP3 series at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza next week after their top driver Robert Wickens won the opening race of two at the last round at Spa in Belgium.
The team, which raced Adam Carroll, who took victory for Team Ireland in the final A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Nations championship last season, entered the new GP3 series this year and has become one of the top runners in the class thus far.
Wickens, from Canada, lies in second place in the series, 18 points behind ART driver Esteban Gutierrez.
It will be a tall order for Wickens to take the title, but nevertheless it has been a fine start to the new GP3 class, which supports the European Formula One races, for the Irish Status Grand Prix outfit.
Status came into being in season one of A1 Grand Prix, backed by Mark Kershaw, but it was taken over by a consortium which included David Kennedy for the last A1 campaign, a season which they secured the championship.
Kennedy, a former Irish racer and TV pundit, is the team’s managing director.
A1 sadly is no more, closed down due to mounting debts and mismanagement, but Status Grand Prix is alive and kicking and this year they decided to enter the new GP3 class, one of a number of support races to the F1 package.
Three wins in debut season
The ART team and Gutierrez in particular have been the class of the series thus far.
However, Status can be very pleased with the efforts of their three-car driver line-up, with Wickens winning twice and Lebanon-born Daniel Morad also picking up a race victory.
‘We have had a strong second half of the season, which is pleasing.
'ART are a strong outfit so to be lying second to them bodes well for us,’ said Kennedy.
‘For a relatively new team ourselves, we are beginning to put down roots and demonstrate that we can perform at the top level and our intention is that whatever happens next week at Monza, we will be in GP3 next season.’
As with all motorsport, be it domestic or international, sponsorship in the present climate is a problem and the lack of an Irish driver in the team is due to the fact that money from Ireland has all but dried up.
Status had spoken to Meath’s Peter Dempsey right up to the first race of the season.
The Ashbourne driver, second twice in the Star Mazda class in the US, just couldn’t get a budget together to race with the team in 2010.
Status has backing from Russia and as a result, have Ivan Lucashevich as their third driver.
He hasn’t produced the goods this season as Wickens and Morad have been at the forefront.
Daly coming into reckoning
One driver who may come into the reckoning for 2011 is young Conor Daly, the American-born son of Derek Daly, former Irish F1 Grand Prix racer who last weekend won the Star Mazda Championship.
Daly, who’s racing helmet has a tri-colour as well as the stars and stripes, took victory with a win from the pole position in Round 12 of the series at the Grand Prix of Mosport.
Daly stretched his season’s record-breaking streak to nine poles and seven wins in the process.
The Indianapolis native had such a points lead, that he technically became the champion the moment the race started.
However, rather than play it safe, and cruise to the checkered flag, Daly led every lap to cross the finish line 0.764 seconds ahead of the second place finisher Venezuelan racer Jorge Goncalvez to wrap up the series with one race remaining.
‘Conor certainly comes into the picture for us after his great win in the US and has dad (Derek) has been onto us.
'We will be sitting down in the not too distant future to see what our future plans are and Conor may well be part of those.
‘Outside of GP3 we may also be looking to perhaps do some sportscar racing and maybe even Le Mans where a hook up with a manufacturer could be in the pipeline’
‘For the moment our full concentration is on Monza and the final round of the series where we will be looking to finish the season strongly,’ he added.