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pic 21/06/14 Lello and Stefano finish 3rd and 4th in today’s Feature Race at the Red Bull Ring.

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The weather was much better for today’s 40 lap feature race with air and track temperatures of 18° and 32° respectively and no chance of rain. The two Racing Engineering cars of Stefano Coletti and Raffaele Marciello went for differing tyre strategies, Lello using the P Zero Yellow soft Pirellis with Stefano on the prime P Zero White medium Pirellis.

All the cars made a clean start and Stefano got away well but as the cars entered the first corner the Racing Engineering car was pushed wide but the young Monegasque was able to keep 3rd place and at the end of the first lap he was 1.1 seconds behind Cecotto and 0.5 seconds ahead of Palmer. Over the next two laps Stefano closed in on Cecotto and passed the Venezuelan for 2nd on lap 4 and he now began to push hard setting a series of fastest laps and on lap 10 the gap to the leader was down to 2.4 seconds as Stefano set another fastest lap of 1:17.681s.

Stefano and race leader Nasr were lapping in very similar times and on lap 17 the gap was still 2.4 seconds but Cecotto was now 7.7 seconds behind. On lap 27 Stefano set his fastest lap of the race so far as he closed the gap to 2.1 seconds as the Racing Engineering team prepared for Stefano’s mandatory pitstop but he lost time when he was pushed off track by another car. On lap 30 he took to the pits, switching to the P Zero Yellow soft Pirellis, resuming in 2nd place but he almost immediately lost places to Vandoorne and Lello as his tyres warmed up. Over the remaining laps the Racing Engineering driver continued to push hard but he had to settle for a fighting 4th at the flag.  

Lello got away a little slowly and he too was pushed wide in the first corner losing a number of places and dropping to 9th, 0.7 seconds behind Pic and 0.1seconds ahead of Haryanto. On lap 2 the young Italian lost a place to Haryanto but he regained it almost immediately and the Racing Engineering car now began to really fly and on lap six he passed Pic for 8th and two laps later, in a great manoeuvre, he passed Rossi for 7th. On lap12 Lello made his mandatory pitstop resuming the track in 14th position.

By half distance, 20 laps, Lello was in 13th place, 0.6 seconds behind Palmer and 3.5 seconds ahead of Rossi but he lost several seconds behind Trummer who had yet to stop but he soon closed the gap to the DAMS car once again. On lap 24 Lello passed Daly for 10th and he was now involved in a tense battle for 8th with Vandoorne and Palmer. By lap 29 the Racing Engineering car was up to 6th as the cars ahead took their pitstops and on lap 30 a superb pass saw Lello take 4th from Palmer into the first turn and one lap later he passed his teammate, who was on cold tyres after his pitstop, for 3rd.

With seven laps to go Lello was 1.9 seconds behind Vandoorne and 0.6 ahead of Stefano and he now pushed hard closing the gap to 1.2 seconds with four laps to go. Lello continued to close the gap and with one lap to go the gap was 0.8 seconds but despite his best efforts he had to settle for 3rd, 0.6 seconds behind the ART car.

An excellent race from both Racing Engineering drivers with Lello taking his first GP2 podium and Stefano being one of the fastest cars on the track for most of the race. Tomorrow’s Sprint race will see Stefano start 5th and Lello 6th on the reversed grid and their race pace today means that both men have a great chance of being on the podium.
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Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “We finally scored some good points with both drivers today. Lello had a poor start and dropped back to 10th, but did a really good job recovering positions on track and the strategy worked well. Stefano, on the other side, had a good start and strong long stint on primes, but unfortunately lost time in traffic when he got pushed off the track by a lapped car. This is where we lost his second position. I am glad though that our drivers had a clean fight during the closing laps, respecting each other, both can score important points again tomorrow. I am happy with Lello’s first podium in GP2.”

Rafaele Marciello: “I am very happy with my first GP2 podium today. We had a really good car, with a good pitstop and strategy. It's also good that Stefano and I scored today as it moved us higher up in the standings as a team. I need to still improve my starts though as I think with a good start I can finish each race in the top 5. Today a good start would have allowed me to win. For tomorrow my objective is to finish on the podium again.”

Stefano Coletti:: “We had a good pace all race long and I ran in P2 for most of the time. When just before my pit stop I lapped another driver, he pushed me off the track and I lost some 5 sec. there. I lost my second place because of this and had to finish the race in 4th.”
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