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pic 28/11/15 Rossi secures the vice-championship after finishing fourth for Racing Engineering at Abu Dhabi.

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The GP2 Series night race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi started with the two Racing Engineering cars on the same row of the grid, the fourth, but with different tyre strategies for the two drivers of the Spanish team. Alexander Rossi, who was starting from seventh position, was on the Pirelli 'red' supersofts while Jordan King, eight on the grid, was on the medium compound 'whites'.

As the starting lights went off Rossi had to avoid Marciello's slow moving car, and was initially overtaken by his team mate, King, recovering the position a few meters later so at the end of the first lap the two Racing Engineering cars were seventh and eighth. Soon there was evidence of the different pace between the supersoft and medium shod cars. The advantage was initially for the cars with the option tyres, and among them was Rossi, closing on the group of six that was pulling away from the field, while Jordan couldn't avoid losing some positions in the first laps, being overtaken by other drivers also on the softer compound, so he was tenth by lap 3.

Nevertheless, from lap 5 the Pirelli supersofts were quickly losing their edge and in just a couple of laps the situation at the top was changing dramatically. Rossi was one of those affected by the wearing tyres, losing positions to be down in 11th by lap 7, when he made his mandatory pitstop. He took on a new set of medium tyres to do the remaining 24 laps of the race. There followed a 'virtual safety car' period as a result of the contact between Nato and Latifi that forced the marshals to remove their stricken cars.

The young American driver for Racing Engineering was back on track in 18th position, 6th among the drivers who had already made their pit stop, and as soon as the race was on again, he went by Haryanto and started to fly, setting the fastest lap so far on the 11 lap with a time of 1:52.864. Three laps later, after passing Gelael and recovering two more places from Markelov and De Jong both who were out of the race, Alexander was now 13th, with just three drivers ahead of him having also made their pit stop.

On lap 22, Rossi recovered two more positions after two great overtaking moves, the first on Gasly, out braking him on the long straight of Yas Marina circuit, and then Malja, passing him in a spectacular fashion at turn 11.

From lap 24, the cars than hadn't yet made their mandatory pit stop started to, and with all the tyre changes completed Alexander was up to fourth. In the final laps, the young American was putting pressure on Evans, looking for a way to get third position, but he run out of time to pass him, crossing the finish line in a well-deserved fourth that allowed him to score enough points to secure the vice-championship ahead of tomorrow’s Sprint Race.

For Jordan King, given his different strategy, the race developed in quite a different way although with an equally positive outcome. The Briton driver for Racing Engineering was one of the drivers who got a better performance from the medium tyres in the first half of the race and, when the supersoft shod cars made their pit stops he was up to third, getting to second on lap 14 after Markelov, with whom he was having a very close fight, had to retire. With the Russian driver out of the race, Jordan kept the second position while managing his tyres and controlling the difference with Negrao, who was following him in third position. With 6 laps to go, Jordan made his pit top and got back to the track in 7th position with his cars fitted now with a set of supersoft, which he made good use of to pass Haryanto with 3 laps to go to gain 6th position, keeping it until the chequered flag despite the final strike back of the Campos Racing driver. 

A good race for its two drivers allows Racing Engineering to consolidate the second position in the team championship and have also a great chance to shine again tomorrow in the sprint race that will bring an end to the season. With Jordan starting third on the reversed grid, and Rossi  from fifth position, both drivers will be among the main contenders for the win and the podium.
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Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger, Team Engineer: “This was an eventful race with an early degradation of the option tyres making the opening laps a bit chaotic. Both drivers had good starts and made up positions. Alex was first to come into the pits as they were on different strategies. From then on he made good progress through the field. Jordan, in the meantime, was in second and tried to open a gap as much as it was possible with an early front wing damage and flat spot. Both drivers executed their respective strategies perfectly leading to a strong team result. Alex secured second place in the driver's championship and tomorrow we will give our best to do the same with the team's championship.”

Jordan King: “I am really happy with my start. I think we made a really good step over the last couple of weekends, which put me in a good position for the first laps. Unfortunately, I lost the lead to the people in the same strategy and in doing so flat-spotted a tyre. From there I think we did a very god job to go long on damaged tyres. Then onto the option tyres our pace was very good, but tyre degradation was very high, which meant I overtook two cars, but I then had to defend hard on the last couple of laps.”

Alexander Rossi:: “The start was OK. I think it became pretty clear that everyone on the option tyres would struggle in the beginning. So the focus was to get to lap 6 as efficiently as possible. There was quite a big train of cars from 1st to 7th which allowed the prime starters to get by us before the pit stop. Nonetheless, our pace was good on primes and although we're not happy to be off the podium, we can be content with 4th place and securing second place in the championship. The only focus tomorrow is to clinch second in the team's as well.”
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