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pic 06/09/14 A disappointing Feature Race today at Monza for Lello and Stefano.

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The weather today at Monza for the 30 lap Feature Race was much warmer than it had been on Friday with the sun shining and air and track temperatures of 26° and 45° respectively. A post-qualifying penalty to Jolyon Palmer meant that Lello would now start from the second row of the grid in 4th spot and Stefano from the sixth row in 12th. Both Lello and Stefano were starting on the Pirelli P Zero Orange hard compound whilst most of the cars around them had opted for the softer P Zero White so that both men would be going for a longer first stint before the mandatory pitstop.

As the race started Lello made a very slow getaway, dropping back to 19th, and as the cars entered the chicane Binder and Izawa made contact and Lello had to take to the gravel trap to avoid contact with Izawa and he was unable to return to the track and was forced into retirement through no fault of his own.

At the start Stefano was able to pass Haryanto and Abt and as the cars finished the opening lap the Racing Engineering car was up to 10th place. By lap 5 Stefano was still lying 10th just 1.1 seconds behind Sorenson and 3.0 seconds ahead of Cecotto as he battled with the cars that were on the softer compound tyres. By lap 10, one third distance, Stefano was up to 6th as the cars ahead of him began to take their pitstops and three laps later, as he set his fastest lap of the race so far, the Racing Engineering car was now up to 2nd.

Stefano now began to push hard setting another personal best time on lap 14 and as the race passed the halfway point Sorensen, Stefano and Cecotto, who were all on the hard compound tyres, were fighting hard for the lead of the race. Lap 18 saw Stefano take his pitstop and a fast tyre change by the Racing Engineering team put the young Monegasque in 12th place and he now began a battle with Leal for 11th which he took on lap 20. Pitstops by cars ahead moved Stefano up to 8th on lap 21 just 0.9 seconds behind Sorensen, but Palmer was chasing hard and he had to be careful not to make any mistakes. On lap 26 the DAMS car passed Stefano and although the Racing Engineering driver fought hard to regain the place he had to settle for 9th at the chequered flag.

Lello’s unfortunate retirement means that the young Italian will have to start from the back row of the grid for tomorrow’s Sprint Race but, as Palmer who started 26th and finished 8th showed today, a good finish is still possible. Stefano will start from the fifth row of the grid and he will be pushing hard to score as many points as possible.
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Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “A very disappointing result today, especially for Lello as he started from the second row on the grid. He stalled at the start, but was able to bump start the car and re-join at the back of the field. A contact in front of him in the chicane on lap 2 forced him out onto the gravel where he got stuck. Stefano finished in P9 having started P12 on the grid. He lost some positions at the start, but made them up again during the opening lap. The strategy helped a bit in gaining some positions, but obviously finishing P9 is not what our objective was considering we aimed for a top 8 finish with Stefano’s car.”

Rafaele Marciello: “We had a problem at the start; I stalled and lost a lot of positions. After the opening lap another car in front of me spun and in avoiding a collision I went off the track and was stuck in the gravel.”

Stefano Coletti:: “I almost stalled at the start, but made up positions at turn 1. Our strategy was good and after the pit stop we should have come out in front of Sorensen. But I lost too much time during my battle with Leal and in the end Palmer passed me and I finished in P9.”
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