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May 11, 2014 - 06:15 AM
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A Disappointing Feature Race Today At Barcelona For Stefano And Lello
Posted by: newsla on May 11, 2014 - 06:12 AM
GP2 News
A Disappointing Feature Race Today At Barcelona For Stefano And Lello

Weather conditions for today’s 37 lap Feature Race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya were similar to those of yesterday with air and track temperatures of 28° and 47° respectively. Following their excellent performances in qualifying the two Racing Engineering drivers, Stefano Coletti and Raffaele Marciello, were starting 3rd and 4th from the second row of the grid, both cars were starting on the softer yellow compound Pirellis but the high track temperature meant that tyre preservation would be very important.


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As the cars were assembled on the grid and the red lights came on the start was aborted and pole sitter Richelmi stalled so he would have to start from the back of the grid on the restart which meant that Stefano was now effectively 2nd with a clear track in front of him and Lello was 3rd. On the second start the cars got away cleanly and Stefano made a great start and as the cars entered the first corner the Racing Engineering car dived around the outside of Palmer to take the lead but he made contact with Evans causing Stefano to spin dropping him to the back of the field with a punctured rear tyre but then the Safety Car was deployed and Stefano was able to pit for a replacement.

As the Safety Car returned to the pits on lap 5 Stefano was lying 22nd over 22 seconds behind the car ahead and his objective was to gain as many positions as possible for a good grid position in tomorrow’s Sprint Race and he radioed back to the team that the car was “still amazing”. On lap 8 the Monegasque driver took his mandatory pitstop resuming the race still in 22nd place but he was now one of the fastest cars on track and he was quickly closing the gap to the cars ahead.

By lap 15 Stefano was lying 21st just one second behind Canamasas and on the following lap he was ahead of the Trident car and now closing on Quaife-Hobbs who was 13 seconds ahead but the Racing Engineering car was now consistently the quickest car on the track, running one or two seconds a lap faster than the cars ahead. Stefano continued to set some fantastic times as the only man to lap in the 1 minute 36 second bracket and by lap 23 the gap to the Rapax car was down to 4.6 seconds.

On lap 27 Stefano was up to 16th as several cars ahead took their pitstops but his tyres were now starting to degrade as they were nearly 20 laps old but he continued to press and as more cars pitted the Racing Engineering car was lying 11th with six laps to go but he was under increasing pressure from Trummer who had much fresher tyres. There was now an intense battle for 5th with nine cars separated by less than five seconds and Stefano was in the middle just 0.6 behind Quaife-Hobbs but on the closing lap he lost a place to Richelmi and he had to settle for 12th.

Lello was slow away at the start losing eight places into the first corner and as the field bunched up further round the lap the Racing Engineering car was involved in contact with Binder and had to stop under the Safety Car period for a new right rear tyre but he was forced to retire due to damage to his car.

Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Stefano start from the middle of the grid but his fantastic race pace today means that he has a chance to score more points in the 2014 Series. Lello will have to start from the back of the grid but he will have a good chance to increase his GP2 experience.

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"This was a really frustrating race, especially considering that both cars started from the second row. Stefano fought for the lead in turn 1, but had contact with another car causing a puncture. Lello had a slow getaway and shortly after he was pushed into another car in turn 10, consequently his race was over. The pace of Stefano throughout the entire race was amazing, so it’s a pity that once more this was not translated into a strong result."

Raffaele Marciello:
"My first start was good, but then Richelmi stalled, so we had another formation lap. My second start wasn’t good as I was afraid to burn the clutch again. I dropped back to P12, but overtook two cars and had a good pace. In the hairpin Binder touched me and I lost control of the car hitting Abt."

Stefano Coletti:
"I made a good start. I was ahead of Palmer and Evans in turn 1, but got hit on my rear right tyre, which got punctured. I had to pit to pick up a new tyre and rejoined the race 65 seconds behind the leader. I was able to reduce this gap to 22 seconds when I crossed the finish line. The car was really good.”

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