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pic 07/09/13 Fabio Leimer wins and Julián Leal finishes 5th for Racing Engineering today at Monza.

The weather for today’s 30 lap Feature Race was very similar to yesterdays’ qualifying with track and air temperatures...
The weather for today’s 30 lap Feature Race was very similar to yesterdays’ qualifying with track and air temperatures of 43° and 31° respectively. Fabio Leimer lined up on the front row of the grid after his excellent second fastest time on Friday whilst Julián Leal was promoted to 13th on the grid following a post-qualifying penalty given to Clos. Fabio was starting the race of the softer Pirellis while Julián had the harder compound.

Fabio made a great start from 2nd place out-dragging Bird into the first corner to lead the race and the two drivers now started an intense battle as both men were lapping at a similar pace with Bird faster in the first sector but Fabio faster in sectors two and three. By lap 7 the Racing Engineering car had started to edge slowly away from the Russian Time driver and the gap was now 1.1 seconds as Fabio set the fastest lap so far with a time of 1:34.188s.

On lap 12 Fabio took his mandatory pitstop changing to the harder Pirelli compound and resuming the track in 11th position, the young Swiss was now in clear air and was soon lapping at the same speed he had been on the softer compound tyre. Lap 17 saw Fabio lying 8th with only cars yet to take their pitstop ahead of him and on the following lap he set another fastest time at 1:33.774s. Fabio effectively took the lead of the race on lap 20 when leader Bird had a slow pitstop leaving the Racing Engineering car 4.1 seconds ahead of the Briton.

The battle between Fabio and Bird was now very tense over the last 7 laps with Bird on the faster softer tyres and just 2.7 seconds behind the Racing Engineering car. Two laps later the gap was down to 1.4 seconds and with three laps remaining the Russian Time car was just three lengths behind Fabio but with both men fighting for the Championship and Nasr and Coletti having retired it was important to both drivers that they didn’t make any mistakes. As the two cars started their final lap they were just 1.0 second apart but Fabio made no mistakes to win the race by just 0.8 seconds and take the lead in the 2013 GP2 Drivers Championship.

Julián had a good start from the 6th row of the grid to be 10th at the end of the opening lap with Richelmi just ahead and Quaife-Hobbs right behind. On lap 2 the young Colombian lost a place to Nasr but he quickly settled down to a good pace and he sat right on the gearbox of the Carlin car. By lap 13, as the cars ahead took their pitstops, he was lying 4th 3.7 seconds behind Richelmi and 3.5 seconds ahead of Calado. The Racing Engineering car made its pitstop from 3rd place on lap 21 returning to the track in 5th place.

With 6 laps to go Julián was 6.5 seconds behind Richelmi and 2.8 seconds in front of Calado and he was setting some of the fastest times laps and he crossed the line in an excellent 5th place after starting 13th.

Tomorrow’s 21 lap Sprint Race will see Fabio starting eighth on the reversed grid and he will be looking for more points to increase his lead while Julián will start fourth and he will want to finish on the podium again as he did at Spa.

Team Comments:

Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: “Awesome race from both our drivers. Fabio's intelligence and ice-cold nerves allowed him to go for this win and the lead in the championship. An equally fantastic race by Julian, who was able to make up all the positions to get up to a great 5th position and have a good starting position for tomorrow. Congratulations also to our engineers and mechanics, who have done a great job allowing our drivers to finish in these good positions. Now we have to work hard to prepare the cars for tomorrow as both boys have chances to finish on the podium.”

Fabio Leimer:
  “Today was a great day. I had a good start and was able to turn into the first corner as leader. This made my race easier as I think Bird could have gone a bit quicker at this stage of the race, but I kept him behind. The pit stop was great and I really pushed a lot during my in lap. A big thank you to my team as everything just worked so well. We had a good strategy and a perfect pit stop and this, with the rest, was what was necessary for today's win. My team was great today and without them, this would not have been possible. Thanks again to our engineers and mechanics.”

Julián Leal: “My start was good and I was able to gain four positions. After that it took me some time to get a good rhythm and I saved my tyres. Towards the middle of the race I had a really good pace and the team has chosen a really good strategy and I came into the pits for the tyre change at the right moment. This allowed me to re-join the race in 5th position and on this set my rhythm was very good. So good, that we tried to go for the fastest lap, which we sadly missed by one tenth of a second. I would like to thank my team for the result achieved today and also congratulate them for my teammate's win and my 5th position.”

Race 2: Sun 08 Sep 2013, 10:35 (GMT+2)

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