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Giorgio Pantano has Taken His and FMS International’s First Ever GP2 Series Win Today in Magny Cours

Giorgio Pantano held his line and his nerve, absorbing almost race long pressure, to claim his first ever GP2 win in race two at Magny Cours, crossing the line just half a second ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr.

The Italian was elated with the win, running straight over to hug team owners Paolo Coloni and Giancarlo Fisichella on his return as they celebrated the team's first win in the category, before being drenched in champagne by Piquet and Alex Premat on the podium to the delight of everyone in the pitlane.

Pantano made a strong start when the lights went out from third on the grid, but so did the front row men Ferdinando Monfardini and Lucas di Grassi, with all three holding position through turn one.

Behind them Premat had a flying start, but when he tried to squeeze through Xandi Negrao into the first corner he was tapped off track, with the Brazilian damaging his car as Piquet rushed past them both.

One turn later and di Grassi was through Monfardini, who was seemingly unsettled by the move, losing grip and throwing his car off track and into the wall at the next bend, as Ernesto Viso and Hiroki Yoshimoto came together and were out of the race just behind the Italian.

At the end of the first lap the order was di Grassi, Pantano, Piquet, Jose Maria Lopez, Negrao and Timo Glock, while series leader Lewis Hamilton had made a scorching start to push up from 19th to 12th, with his teammate now two spots behind.

But Pantano was on a mission, and he wasted no time taking the lead from di Grassi, forcing his way through at the hairpin to give himself a clear track ahead. And he wasn't the only one - Premat was also on fire, overtaking three cars, including his famous teammate, to be tenth at the end of the second lap.

Ahead of him other drivers were making his life a lot easier - Negrao was back in the pits with a broken car, while Lopez, who had set the fastest lap, was pushing too hard and threw his car off at the 180 curve.

But Premat didn't need the help - he tapped his way past Olivier Pla at the Adelaide hairpin, taking Hamilton with him, and the ART drivers were clearly on a roll to get something more from the weekend.

Piquet wasn't standing around either - he forced his way past di Grassi at Elysee for second and was off down the road after Pantano.

The Arden pairing of Neel Jani and Michael Ammermüller were all that stood between ART and the points, and the red and white cars ran through them like a hot knife through butter - the Adelaide hairpin was a happy hunting ground for the pair, with Premat eased his way by Ammermüller on lap seven, Jani a lap later, and then Clivio Piccione for fifth the next time around, while Hamilton repeated the process a lap after his teammate.

While ART were going forward, di Grassi was falling back. The pace on track was frenetic, and the young Brazilian didn't have a car to run with it. On lap 12 Glock was on his tail, just edging ahead at Adelaide and then running side by side to the Nurburgring corner, but the German had just enough to make it stick as Premat loomed behind them ominously.

Up at the front Pantano was doing everything he could to hold off Piquet, with the pair running nose to tail for lap after lap, the Italian just wide enough to hold his position. Glock was more than eight seconds down the road in third, but it looked like his time there was running out.

And so it proved - with Hamilton easing by di Grassi at Adelaide for fifth, his teammate locked up heavily but forced his way inside Glock, who threw everything back at the Frenchman as they ran through the back section of the track. The pair were locking wheels everywhere, but Premat inevitably edged ahead to take his podium position.

With Premat, Glock and Hamilton running together on track the battle at the front had reached fever pitch - Pantano was clinging onto the lead with his fingernails as Piquet threw everything he had at the Italian, trying as he was to pick up the extra point to eat into Hamilton's championship lead.

The final laps were nail biting for the FMS crew, who sat on the pitwall not daring to look at the screens, but when the chequered flag fell Pantano was 0.5 seconds to the good ahead of Piquet, with an nine second gap back to the Premat/Glock/Hamilton train. Di Grassi held on for a well deserved point in sixth place, four tenths ahead of Jani, while Glock got the extra point for fastest lap.

Piquet had done what he came here to do, cutting Hamilton's lead by seven points, with the Briton on 70 and the Brazilian on 56. But all eyes were on Pantano as he bathed in the glory of his first win in the series in a race that was yet another embarrassment of riches.