|25 cars lined up in the grid in sunny conditions for the first Feature Race of the 2011 GP2 Series with Racing Engineering’s two drivers, Dani Clos and Christian Vietoris, lining up 5th and 8th respectively. Vietoris moving up a place from 9th after qualification following a 10 place grid penalty being applied to Valsecchi.
As the lights went off both Clos and Vietoris made excellent starts as the young Spaniard took advantage of a slow start from Bird to move up to 2nd and the young German gained three places to take 5th. However a big accident at the back of the grid resulting in three cars retiring, fortunately without driver injury, saw the deployment of the Safety Car as the Turkish marshalls cleared the debris from the racing line.
Racing resumed on lap 4 with Clos still 2nd and Vietoris 5th but a lap later both men lost a place as Bird demoted Clos to 3rd and Vietoris lost a place to Filippi. The Racing Engineering team went for an early pit stop strategy with Vietoris calling him in on lap 6 and the German resumed the race in 21st position. Clearly the new tyres were an improvement as Vietoris set the fastest lap of the race so far, a 1:37.775 on lap 8.
Lap 10 saw Clos running wide and losing a place to Filippi and dropping to 4th and on the following lap the Racing Engineering team called the Spaniard into the pits for his mandatory stop as many of the field followed suite. Clos resumed in 10th place with teammate Vietoris one place behind in 11th.
By lap 14 Clos was up to 7th with Vietoris 9th as he was overtaken by Van der Garde and a lap later both men gained two positions as the pit stops continued. Clos moved up to 3rd on lap 17 as Mirocha made a second pit stop but a flying Van der Garde pushed him back to 4th on the following lap.
Vietoris began to slow dramatically as he found his new set of tyres not reacting as he expected and on lap 20 he dived into the pits losing 34 seconds and resuming in 19th spot. It was now clear that Clos was also suffering from tyre problems as he dropped to 5th on lap 23 when Bianchi passed him on the entrance to the first corner and on lap 27 he slid off into the gravel trap losing a further two places before he was able to resume.
As the race entered its closing stages Vietoris was flying even though he was back in 14th place, he was one of only three drivers lapping in the 1:39 bracket, the other two being race leader Grosjean and second place man Bird. Clos was still struggling for grip and with two laps to go he was demoted to 8th by Pic. As the chequered flag fell Clos held onto 8th from a closing Ericsson and Vietoris had climbed back to 11th.A difficult race for Racing Engineering but both drivers fought hard despite their problems and for Dani Clos he has the reward of starting tomorrow’s race from pole position whilst, although having to start from the 6th row, the undoubted pace shown by Vietoris today, with the third fastest race lap, means a finish in the points is a strong possibility.