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Pantano makes the point again

GIORGIO PANTANO drove home the point that he is a special talent while testing for Team Astromega in Formula 3000 this week. The young Italian, who has just tied up the German Formula 3 Championship in his first year of competition, set tongues wagging in Formula 3000 circles on Thursday afternoon as he set the fastest time. He had tested the car for only 40 laps the previous morning but in his 18 laps in the afternoon session he beat all the established runners. He ended up a tenth of a second quicker than Antonio Pizzonia, who was testing for Petrobras Junior Team and American Derek Hill, who was running with DAMS. The afternoon times were considerably slower than those recorded in the morning session because the track was slightly damp and it was no surprise that over the two days of testing Formula 3000 regulars Enrique Bernoldi, Justin Wilson, Darren Manning and Tomas Enge were at the top of the overall timesheets.

"I have not done much running in the Formula 3000 car," said Pantano, "so to set the fastest time makes me happy. I think we can find more time in the set up, so I think next year can be very good for me."

Pantano has tested for the Benetton team this year and has had meetings with Williams but at the moment he does not have a deal in F1, although he is hoping to be taken on as a test driver despite the fact that there do not appear to be very many openings at the moment.

Pantano's tests with Benetton were not as impressive as they might have been and it seems that some of the F1 teams have written him off as a result leaving the German Formula 3 team owners in a state of bewilderment as they witnessed Pantano's remarkable rookie victory in the series this year, despite the fact that he began the year having done only a handful of single seater races in his life. Pantano has an astounding record in karting and the fact that he has not been snapped up by an F1 is evidence of the blindness that exists in Grand Prix racing rather than Pantano's lack of talent.

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