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pic 20/04/13 Fabio Leimer and Racing Engineering win today’s Feature Race in Bahrain.

The weather at the Sakhir circuit was very hot for the start of the 32 lap Feature Race...
The weather at the Sakhir circuit was very hot for the start of the 32 lap Feature Race with an air temperature of 33° and a track temperature of 41°. Following on from yesterday’s qualifying, Fabio Leimer was starting from pole position following his total dominance of both Friday sessions whilst Julián Leal was starting from 17th and looking to gain as many positions as possible.

Fabio made a great start to lead into the first corner from Coletti as both men began to battle for position on the opening lap. As the cars completed the lap Fabio had opened up a small gap of 0.7 seconds ahead of the pursuing Rapax car and on lap 2 the Racing Engineering driver set a fastest lap of 1m45.167s. By lap 4 Fabio had slowly opened out a gap of 1.5 seconds over Coletti who was now coming under pressure from Bird. Fabio continued to increase his lead at the front of the field and by lap 6 the gap was 3.56seconds.

On lap 7 many of the cars began to pit for their mandatory stop with most drivers changing from the soft to the harder compound Pirelli although some had gambled on starting on the harder tyre. On lap 10 both Fabio and Coletti made their pit stops and as the cars resumed the track they were now in 11th and 12th positions.

On lap 16 Fabio was lying 10th with the nine cars ahead of him yet to stop, the young Swiss was still being chased by Coletti who was 2.0 seconds behind in the Rapax car. Fabio was now passing slower cars that had yet to pit and the gap to Coletti was fluctuating as both cars dealt with the traffic. As the cars ahead made their stops Fabio moved back into the lead on lap 21 and he was now 3.3 seconds ahead of Coletti.

With 10 laps remaining Fabio was leading by 2.7 seconds and over the next few laps Coletti began to close in on the Racing Engineering car but Fabio increased his pace to keep the gap at just under three seconds.  With six laps remaining, a slow lap from Coletti saw Fabio extend his lead to 3.9 seconds and, as the last few laps were completed, the young Swiss continued to increase his lead and, although he eased off over the last two laps, he took the chequered flag 1.9 seconds ahead of Coletti.

Julián made a slow start from 17th but he gained several places on the first lap to be 10th as the cars crossed the line and he was just 0.6 seconds behind Dillmann in 9th. On lap 3 the young Columbian lost a place to Frijns but two laps later he re-passed the Hilmer Motorsport car. By lap 11 Julián was up to 3rd as many of the cars ahead pitted and this became 2nd as he passed Dillmann on lap 15.

Julián made his pitstop on lap 19 but sadly, as he accelerated away, the car stalled and he lost time as the Racing Engineering pit crew restarted the car. Sadly he resumed the track in 21st place and then to make things worse it was announced he would have to take a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He took this on lap 22, resuming the track in 23rd place and although Julián was now running very quickly, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 24 with a time of 1m 43.889s, he was unable to gain more than a few places finishing the race in 19th.

Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Fabio start from 8th on the reversed grid and with a great chance of finishing on the podium again. Julián will have to start from near the back of the grid but the pace he showed today means that he will be trying hard for a points scoring finish.

Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “Fantastic results from the team and Fabio today with a great win. The race was under control at all times, Fabio's start was a bit difficult, but he defended his position well during the opening lap. Our strategy worked well and we had a good pit stop. All fell into place and Fabio was able to celebrate the second win in the second feature race of the season. Julian, on the other hand, also had a fantastic first half of the race. He had a great start and showed some great fight and overtaking, as when he passed Dillmann. Unfortunately he made a mistake just after the tyre change when he stalled the engine and also released the pit limiter too early, which resulted in a drive through penalty. This ruined all his chances of finishing in the points; he was virtually 7th or 8th and showed a very good pace on the second set of tyres as well. Therefore it is a very big disappointment as he had the car and the talent to do it today. He could have started tomorrow's race from the front row, but that’s how it is and he has to learn from it. We will work hard to prepare for tomorrow's race and we hope both our drivers can score as many points as possible. Finally, I would like to thank all the team for the good work done so far this weekend.”

Fabio Leimer:  “Today was a really good day although yesterday we were a little bit quicker than today. I didn't have a great start and actually I almost stalled. It was tight in turn 1 with Stefano Coletti, but I managed to keep him behind me. I pushed a bit during the opening laps, so he would not be able to take advantage of my slipstream on the straights. Our pit stop was really good and on the second set of tyres I just tried to save them, I attempted to go for the fastest lap, but it wasn't possible anymore. During the last 2 laps the tyre degradation was higher, but I was able to finish the race without any problem. Tomorrow my goal is clearly to make up as many positions as possible and it would be great to arrive at Barcelona as the championship leader. But we need to see as the Sunday races are difficult and I also hope that no one crashes into me, so I can actually finish the race the way I want to.”

Julián Leal: “I think the team did a very good job. Today was my fault as I made a mistake during the pit stop when I stalled the car. The pace we had before the pit stop was quite interesting and the car was going well. I was able to be one of the fastest drivers during the first part of the race. I think, in the end, without the mistake during the pit stop, I could have started tomorrow's race from first or second as I am sure I would have finished in P7 or P8 today. On the second set of tyres we did some very good laps as well and actually set the fastest lap time of the race. The pace, compared to those I fought against just before, was not bad at all. So, I think today was not as planned, but we have the potential and we have the pace, without mistakes we can be on top. The only thing for tomorrow is that I will try my best as it's not easy to start from so far back.”


Race 2: Sun 21 Apr 2013, 10:50 (GMT+3)

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