|All 26 cars lined up on the grid and as the lights went out both Racing Engineering cars made good starts with Dani Clos gaining a place to 5th and Alvaro Parente gaining three positions to move into 12th spot. However contact in the middle of the grid caused Filippi to leave the track and hit the pitwall, fortunately without injury, and the Safety Car was immediately deployed whilst the marshalls removed the damaged car.
The Safety Car pulled in at the end of lap 4 and racing resumed, Clos was a little slow away at the restart due to a misunderstanding with Ericsson which allowed the 4th placed Grosjean to pull away but the young Spaniard was able to keep the chasing Ericsson behind him. The Swede was now pressing Clos hard and on lap 7 the Racing Engineering car lost 5th place and came under pressure from Coletti in 7th. Parente had held onto 12th place at the restart and was chasing Herck for 11th and on lap 9 he was 0.3 seconds behind but the Portuguese driver had to drive carefully as Bianchi was only 0.4 seconds behind.
By lap 10 Clos had moved to within a second of Ericsson and was working hard to pull away from the chasing Bianchi whilst Parente moved up to 11th on lap 13 when Herck became the first car to make its mandatory pitstop. Clos made his stop on lap 16 from 6th place regaining the track in 17th and on the following lap it was the turn of Parente who resumed 18th.
As most of the leading cars made their stops and the race settled down again on lap 19 Clos was now 9th still chasing Ericsson and leading Coletti whilst Parente was 16th with Palmer just 0.1 seconds ahead and Chilton 1.6 seconds behind.
A collision on lap 21 saw the Safety Car out on track again and which allowed the two cars that had not made their stop to pull into the pits. Racing restarted again on lap 25 with Clos in 7th, one second down on Ericsson and 1.4 seconds ahead of Bianchi while Parente was 0.5 behind Kral with Leimer right on his gearbox.
Positions remained static for the next few laps with Clos losing ground to Ericsson but pulling away from Bianchi, Parente continued to fight with Leimer and on lap 31 he lost a place to the Rapax car. The Portuguese driver now found himself chasing Coletti and he quickly closed in on the Trident car. The chequered flag was shown on lap 34 as the race had been running for one hour and Clos crossed the line in 7th with Parente 12th unable to pass Coletti before the finish.
Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Clos starting from second on the reversed grid and his consistency today means that he has the speed to finish on the podium and he has a good chance to take the win. For Parente it will be a case of driving hard to get into a points scoring position which, as he gets used to driving the 2011 Dallara, is a real possibility.
Dani Clos: “Well, we are improving. It was quite a tough race. I see that our work is showing results, even if today it wasn't so visible as there was a misunderstanding with Ericsson during the safety car period, which made me have a big gap to the cars in front of me. But even then, it was positive. Tomorrow we start from the front and hope to have a good race.”
Alvaro Parente: “The race was OK. But after the race it's easy to make conclusions. I think we should have pitted a bit later as my tyres were really fine at that moment. After the second safety car it was weird as I had higher tyre degradation. Maybe I was not conserving them enough, but overall the race was going well until this safety car period. Now we need to analyse the data and prepare tomorrow's race.”
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: “Great job by the team, we have got the bull by the horns. Still needs more work, but we have a good idea where we stand. With Dani starting from the front row tomorrow, we really need to examine all the data and find the best solution for Dani to fight for a win. Well done everyone!”
Race 2: 23 May 2011 10:35:00 (Local time)