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Apr 05, 2014 - 06:43 PM
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Leal Storms To Feature Race Podium In Bahrain
Posted by: newsla on Apr 05, 2014 - 06:38 PM
GP2 News
Leal Storms To Feature Race Podium In Bahrain

Carlin’s Julián Leal has taken an impressive second place podium in the opening Feature Race in Bahrain this afternoon as the GP2 Series’ tenth season got underway in spectacular fashion. Team mate Felipe Nasr secured points for his eighth place position and will line up from pole ahead of tomorrow’s Sprint Race. In a race that was determined by tyre strategy and a safety car period Leal held his nerve well and piled the pressure on those around him, eventually taking the flag in second overall.


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The opening round of the tenth GP2 season kicked off in Bahrain this afternoon with the start of the Feature Race complete with new tyre regulations for the drivers to contend with. As the lights went out it was clear once again that 2014 is to be another hotly contested season. Pole sitter Jolyon Palmer had a bad start which sent him down the field and into the clutches of Nasr who had, oppositely, enjoyed a storming launch and was up to seventh from 11th. Leal had also made his mark on the opening lap and was sitting in ninth.

Nasr continued to push to attempt to take the position from Palmer over the next lap however opted to drop off the back of the DAMS driver to save his option tyres. Leal meanwhile had made his move on Johnny Cecotto to take eighth, just behind his team mate. Further down the field the fight for position between Axcil Jefferies and Kimiya Sato resulted in Jefferies hitting the wall at some speed and ultimately bringing the safety car out on track.

As the track went green again a few laps later Nasr pulled straight for the pits to change on to the prime tyres; Leal on the other hand remained on track and moved up to second position becoming the fastest man on track in the process. Just a couple of laps later Leal himself took to the pits for his prime tyres and re-joined the racing action just ahead of Palmer; however with Palmer on warmer tyres Leal was unable to hold the position and dropped behind the British driver.

With seven men yet to pit, and running a different tyre strategy, the field began to settle into a steady pace again before those who were running the hard tyres would need to pit later on – and with 20 laps left Leal was tenth and Nasr 17th overall.

Over the next few laps Leal continued to hold on to the back of Palmer as the pair made their way past Artem Markelov who was struggling on his set of old tyres. All but one driver had taken their compulsory pit stop with 10 laps remaining; leaving Leal in fourth and Nasr tenth.

Nasr began to push hard in the closing stages and was able to pass both Rio Haryanto and Mitch Evans before trying to catch Arthur Pic. However tyre strategy came into play again as Takuya Izawa and Simon Trummer began to storm through on their fresh set of rubber. And in the final stages of the race Nasr was unfortunate to be one of the drivers in the firing line – the Brazilian would cross the line in eighth position overall picking up all important championship points and the reverse grid pole ahead of tomorrow’s sprint race.

However at the front of the field Leal had been playing a waiting game with Palmer – picking his opportune moment the Carlin man swept past as the pair entered the first corner leaving him free to make his way up the grid in an effort to chase the race leader, Stoffel Vandoorne. The Carlin man closed the gap however ran out of laps and crossed the line in a fantastic second position.

Reflecting on his first podium for the team Leal said, ‘I started from 12th position so I wasn’t really expecting to be on the podium today but we knew that our pace was good throughout testing - it’s great that we were able to replicate that and get here today. On the hard compound the pace was really good and I was beginning to catch Stoffel [Vandoorne] but couldn’t quite get there. The strategy worked really well for us today so I’m very happy with how the race went. The car was fantastic during the whole race, really competitive and I am grateful for the work the team put in. ’

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