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pic 12/10/14 A great recovery drive from Stefano in today’s Sprint race at Sochi.

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Following yesterday’s Feature Race where he finished an excellent 3rd Lello was starting from 6th on the reversed grid for today’s 21 lap Sprint Race while Stefano’s unfortunate retirement with an electrical problem saw him starting from the back of the grid in 25th place with a lot of work to do to get into the points. The weather continued to be hot and sunny with air and track temperatures of 22° and 42° respectively. The favoured tyre for today’s shorter race was the harder Pirelli P Zero White option.

Lello lost several places dropping to 9th as the start got underway and a number of cars went wide into the first corner making overtaking difficult but the young Italian soon began to gain places passing Negrão and several other cars to lie 6th at the end of the first lap just behind Evans and ahead of Berthon. Lello was now putting pressure on Evans and at the end of lap 3 the gap was just 0.3 seconds and he had pulled 1.2 seconds ahead of Nasr. The young Italian was now involved in a tense battle with a group of cars battling for second with five cars separated by just over two seconds.

A stop-go penalty for Leal saw Lello promoted to 5th on lap 7 but a spin into the final corner saw him drop to 10th and he then lost two more places so that he was now in 12th spot on lap 11, the half distance point. The Racing Engineering car passed Cecotto and the retirement to Canamasas moved him up to 11th on lap 13 and by lap 16 he was just 0.3 seconds behind Sato. However on the next lap Markelov moved over on Lello causing contact which resulted in a puncture to the rear right tyre and as he braked for the next corner the Racing Engineering car spun off and made heavy contact with the barrier resulting in retirement, fortunately without injury, for Lello.

Stefano made a clean start but he was forced to run wide into the first corner as several cars went off track and he was lying 23rd at the end of the first lap. By lap 4 the Racing Engineering car was up to 20th and challenging Haryanto and he soon passed the Caterham car and he now closed in on Ellinas who he passed on lap 7 to lie 18th. The young Monegasque then took passed another car and the penalty to Leal saw him in 16th on lap 9 and his next target was Abt who was 1.8 seconds ahead. Stefano quickly caught the Hilmer driver and passed both the German and his teammate Lancaster putting him in 14th place.

Stefano, who gained a place with the retirement of Canamasas, was now closing on Cecotto in 12th and he set his fastest lap of the race so far on lap 15 as he gained a place following the retirement of his teammate but with the Safety Car now deployed he closed the gap to Cecotto and with just two laps remaining racing resumed and he was immediately up to 11th as Cecotto retired and he then passed both Gasly and Markelov and one more overtaking manoeuvre saw him crossing the finishing line in 8th to take the final point after a brilliant recovery drive from the back of the field.

The final round of the 2014 GP2 Series will be in Abu Dhabi on the Yas Marina circuit in six weeks’ time.
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Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “This was a very eventful race for us. Stefano had a good recovery from the last row to 8th and showed a strong pace during his fight through the field. A pity Lello’s race didn’t bring the points we expected and it finished in an accident due to the puncture caused by a contact with Markelov.”

Rafaele Marciello: “This was a quite bad race for us. I started like yesterday, so not so well, losing some positions. I recovered well during the opening laps and was back in P6. Our pace was not bad, but when I spun in the last corner, I dropped back to 11th place. And when I had contact with another car, I was out of the race.”

Stefano Coletti:: “It was a fun race. I had a quite good start and good first corners. Unfortunately, I was hit by another car in turn 4 and lost several places; I think some 11 or 12, when I was already up to P11. I then started to push and my car was quite quick so I went from P25 to P8. I am very happy about this race.”
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©GP2
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©GP2
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©GP2
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