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Ithmaar banking group sponsors motor sport rising star Romain Grosjean
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The Ithmaar banking group, one of the most diversified financial services providers in the Middle East, has signed on to be the main sponsor of GP2 Asia Series race driver Romain Grosjean, a member of Team ART Grand Prix. Grosjean’s ties to the group can be traced to the fact that both himself and Faisal Private Bank (FPB), one of the group’s flagship companies, are based in Geneva, Switzerland. The agreement includes branding presence on Grosjean’s vehicle, with group members FPB and Bahrain-based Ithmaar Bank, Shamil Bank and Solidarity logos being prominently displayed.

One of the most promising young talents in motorsport, Grosjean is reigning champion of the F3 Euroseries. This year, the young driver who is only 21 has been selected by GP2 French team ART to be their driver of record and has set off to a promising start by signing the top lap speed in the Dubai test race that took place on Sunday January 20th. Overall, Romain Grosjean came in 2nd in the second race and placed a disappointing but honorable 7th place in the first race.

The 2008 GP2 Series, which kicks off in Dubai later this month, with the first official races taking place on January 25 and 26, is one of the biggest events on the motorsport calendar, coming in just short of Formula 1 in importance. Indeed, for several races planned on this year’s calendar, both GP2 and Formula 1 races will be held jointly on the same racetracks, with the GP2 races being run just before the Formula 1 races.

History has shown that winners of the Formula 3 series who step up to GP2 level and maintain a strong performance there have excellent chances to get to Formula 1. This is, for example, exactly what happened to driver Lewis Hamilton who raced with Grosjean’s team ART in 2006 and moved up to Formula 1 that same year. ART, owned in part by Ferrari’s Jean Todt’s son, Nicolas, promoted and coached another driver who followed the same path – Nico Rosberg in 2005.

“Faisal Private Bank is a firm believer in promoting entrepreneurship of all kinds and is strongly supporting Romain as he represents a new generation of achievers in the region. Just as we currently help a number of young technology start-ups in the Geneva area, we are helping this driver in his mission to reach his ambitious goal of one day becoming a leader in the Formula 1 series,” said Marco Rochat, Chief Executive, Faisal Private Bank.
Grosjean came in contact with the group through Faisal Private Bank, which is the only Sharia-compliant institution licensed by the Swiss Federal Banking Commission.

“The GP2 Series is a very demanding championship and the final stepping stone on a driver’s path to Formula One. Its importance is highlighted by the fact that two of its legs, Malaysia and Bahrain, are being held as support races for F1 Grand Prix events,” said Ithmaar Bank Managing Director, Group Support, Ahmed Abdul Rahim.

“This is the Ithmaar banking group’s first foray into motorsports sponsorship and we are proud it will be in association with someone like Romain, one of the sport’s rising stars. I hope that our association with him will be a long and fruitful one,” he added.

Grosjean looks forward to the Asian Series, which could be a huge milestone in his career.

“This an important season for me because I will have to fight for the GP2 Asia Series crown together with my new team ART Grand Prix. There will be a lot of pressure but I know I can do it and I want it more than anything. I’m glad that the Ithmaar banking group sees this potential in me and is supporting me in this critical period in my career. I know I have what is needed to take it to the next level,” said Grosjean.

“It’s going to be a tough series, with some fierce competition against other world class drivers. I look forward to doing my fans and my sponsor proud,” he continued.

The Asian leg of GP2 Series opens in Dubai on January 25 and 26 and closes there with another weekend on April 11 and 12. Legs in between include Indonesia on February 15 and 16, Malaysia on March 22 and 23 and Bahrain on April 5 and 6.

Grosjean was champion and won all ten rounds of the 2003 Swiss Formula Renault 1.6 championship, moving on to the 2004 French Formula Renault 2.0 championship, where he came in seventh place in the first season with one win. He was champion in 2005 with ten victories. In 2006 Grosjean took part in the F3 Euroseries, where he finished 13th, and won two legs of the British Championship in Pau France. In 2007 he was champion of the F3 Euroseries with six wins,12 podiums, four pole positions and seven fastest laps.

 
 
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