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pic 20/06/14 Stefano and Lello qualify 4th and 5th today at the Red Bull Ring.

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As the 45 minute morning practice session got underway rain began to fall and the temperature was low with air and track temperatures of 18° and 28° respectively. Almost immediately the two Racing Engineering drivers were setting a fast pace with Raffaele Marciello lying 7th and Stefano Coletti 9th after ten minutes.

Light rain continued to fall making the track slippery but times continued to drop with Lello moving up to 6th after 15 minutes with a time of 1:17.892s. The rain began to ease and Stefano was now one of the fastest cars on track going 2nd with a lap of 1:16.157s after 22 minutes and almost immediately improving to 1:16.435s to go fastest. The Racing Engineering team clearly had a very good set-up on their cars and it was Lello’s turn to set the pace going fastest with a lap of 1:15.768s after 29 minutes and Stefano was right behind in 3rd on 1:15.830s. The rain began to fall again in the dying minutes and the Racing Engineering drivers finished the session in an excellent 2nd and 3rd positions.

Rain was expected again for the 30 minute qualifying session with the air and track temperatures were cooler than those of the morning and as the session started all the cars took to the track to set a time in case the weather turned wet. Lello was once again flying and he was soon 2nd fastest with a time of 1:18.702s and Stefano was soon running equally quickly. All the cars returned to the pits at the half-way point in the session to fine tune their set-ups and fit new tyres, at this stage Stefano was lying 6th and Lello 7th.

As the cars returned to the track there were signs that the rain would soon return and as the drivers prepared to push for their final quick laps raindrops began to hit the track causing several incidents. Just as the session was finishing both Racing Engineering drivers put in a final effort and, despite the difficult conditions, Stefano set the 4th fastest time with a 1:15.443s with Lello right behind him on 1:15.449s for 5th.

Tomorrow’s 40 lap Feature Race will see Stefano start from the second row of the grid and Lello from the third row with both men having an excellent chance to finish on the podium given the race pace they have already shown all season.
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Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “This was an interesting day with this being a new venue added to the GP2 calendar. Both drivers and cars performed well this morning in free practice despite the difficult weather and track conditions with some drops of rain. For qualifying this afternoon the track and air temperature dropped and it took everyone longer to get the tyres up to temperature. On his fastest lap Lello was blocked by Haryanto, who entered into the pits, which stopped him from finishing his excellent lap that could have put him on the front row. Stefano has done some good laps during the second stint, but lost his fastest lap due to mistakes during the last two corners. Overall it’s a strong result, but there is some disappointment as we should have both drivers higher up the classification.”

Rafaele Marciello: “The car was good and after the first run I knew there was a margin, so I didn’t want anything on my car to be changed for the second stint. At the beginning of the second stint I hit traffic and on my following lap I made a mistake. So I was confident knowing I could still improve as the wind was quite tricky today as well. Then I had a really good lap, but in the last corner Haryanto blocked me and I had to settle for P5. It’s a good result, but I know more was possible.”

Stefano Coletti:: “The conditions were strange today and the track was quicker in the morning session than in the afternoon. The car was good enough to be in the top 3 today without any problem. I finished qualifying in P4 though as I made mistakes on my last lap in the last two corners, which is a shame as a front row start was possible.”
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