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pic 14/05/16 Norman Nato takes a great win for Racing Engineering at Barcelona today.

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Today’s 37 lap Feature Race saw warmer conditions than the teams had faced in Practice and Qualifying with air and track temperatures of 21° and 43° respectively. After yesterday’s Qualifying Norman Nato was starting from an excellent second on the grid and Jordan King was disappointed to be back in 13th. Norman was starting on the Pirelli P Zero Orange hard compound tyres while Jordan had the soft compound P Zero Yellows.

As the lights went off Norman got away cleanly holding on to his second place right behind Gasly and just ahead of Sirotkin, but a Virtual Safety Car period was declared as an incident on the opening lap meant that the car of Ghiotto had to be removed from the track. On lap three the Safety Car was deployed from the pits and on lap six it returned and racing got underway again. Over the next laps Gasly, Norman and Sirotkin began to open out a lead at the front of the field and by lap ten Norman was just 0.6 seconds behind Gasly and he was closing in on the Prema car as he used his DRS on the pit straight.

Over the next ten laps the gaps between the first three remained the same as the drivers were looking after their tyres as they wanted to leave it as long as possible before switching to the soft compound Pirellis. Lap twenty two saw Sirotkin pressuring Norman but on lap twenty three the Russian made an error and he spun and stalled on the track causing a Safety Car period and Gasly and Norman immediately dived into the pits and switched to the soft compound tyres and the two drivers resumed the track in first and second but both men would have to drive carefully as fourteen laps on the soft tyres was more than Racing Engineering and Prema would have wanted. Norman immediately began to push Gasly hard and on lap twenty six the Racing Engineering driver made a great move diving up the inside of his fellow Frenchman to take the lead. The race was now being run to a 60 minute time limit and, as Gasly became involved in a fight with Latifi, Norman was able to pull away at the front and another Safety Car period right at the finish meant the Norman was able to take a great win on his race debut with the Racing Engineering team.

Jordan had a great opening lap as he was up to 9th place and chasing Canamasas for 8th when the Virtual Safety Car period was announced. As the Safety Car period ended Jordan locked his brakes going into the first corner and he then lost a place to Matsushita further around the track and at the end of the lap the young Englishman pitted for a set of the hard compound tyres, resuming in 20th position. The Racing Engineering driver was quickly making up places and by lap twelve he was up to 12th and chasing Lynn who was 2.6 seconds ahead but he was coming under pressure from Malja. By lap twenty the positions were unchanged with Jordan 2.9 seconds behind Lynn and Malja 1.9 seconds further back, all three drivers had made their mandatory pitstop and were being careful not to put too much strain on their tyres.

The Safety Car period on lap twenty three saw a lot of cars ahead of Jordan take their mandatory pitstops and as racing resumed he was lying 6th although he immediately lost a place to Markelov who was on soft tyres. Jordan was now chasing Canamasas who was 2.1 seconds ahead but the 60 minute time limit and the Safety Car period at the end of the race meant that he had to settle for 7th place

A great day for Racing Engineering with Norman taking his first win in GP2 in his first race for the Spanish team and Jordan had a great drive up to 6th from 13th on the grid. Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Jordan start from second and Norman from 8th on the reversed grid.
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Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger, Team Engineer: “So it’s a good way to start the season, first Feature Race and first victory. Norman drove a very mature race, attacking when he needed to and taking a deserved win. It was more complicated for Jordan, we lost a little pace in the middle of the race but in all events he managed to score points and he will start tomorrow on the front row so let’s try and repeat today.”

Norman Nato: “I didn’t do a great start but I didn’t lose any positions and I was behind Gasly, I tried to attack him and overtake at the beginning but t wasn’t possible so I decided to stay behind him and wait because I knew we were going to do over twenty laps on the tyres so I decided to manage my race and push at the end. When we switched to the option tyre I was still behind Gasly so I decided it was now or never so I made the move and passed him. I am very happy and would like to thank the team, we did a lot of hard work over the winter at the workshop and in testing and it has paid off.”

Jordan King:: “One of the positives to take was my start which was one area where I was a bit up and down last year so we worked hard over the winter and I focussed on my job and really listened to get the process right and it showed right away as I got three people off the line, it felt good and I finished the first lap in 9th. At the restart after the Safety Car I made a big mistake and locked up my tyres so I had to pit straight away which was a bit annoying as I would have liked to have done a few more laps on the option tyres. The pace was good on the prime tyres and we did a long stint, I had a good pace at the end which is a good sign for tomorrow. It was a good recovery drive from 13th and we picked up a few points and I’m in a good position for the Sprint race.”
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