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pic 26/05/16 Norman Nato and Jordan King qualify second and third today for Racing Engineering at Monaco.

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The weather at Monaco for the morning Practice session was warm with air and track temperatures of 19° and 31° respectively. The start of the 45-minute session was delayed slightly as some repairs were needed on the track following the F1 Practice. Pirelli are supplying their P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft compounds to the teams this weekend due to the relatively low speeds at this narrow and twisty circuit.

Both of the Racing Engineering drivers were immediately on the pace with Norman Nato going to the top on his first flying lap with a time of 1:23.799s and his next lap saw him reduce this to 1:21.788s. Jordan King was also going quickly but his first flying lap was ruined by traffic on the final corners but he quickly moved up to second with a time of 1:23.318s and he soon improved to 1:22.709s. With fifteen minutes of the session completed an accident to Gasly at Ste Devote saw a Virtual Safety Car period and Norman and Jordan took advantage of the incident and returned to the pits for some adjustments to their cars.

The session resumed with 28 minutes still to go and Norman immediately improved to 1:21.433s but another accident at Ste Devote saw yellow flags and a further loss of time. With nineteen minutes to go Jordan jumped to the top of the timing with a lap time of 1:20.735s and with fifteen minutes left both Racing Engineering cars were back in the pit for some final set-up changes. With ten minutes to go both men were back on the track and Norman quickly improved to 1:20.440s to move up to 2nd while Jordan made no further improvement and finished the session in 5th.

The afternoon Qualifying session was split into two sixteen minute sessions with one car from each team in each session, for Racing Engineering Norman would be in Group A and Jordan in Group B. The weather was a little warmer than in the morning with air and track temperatures of 19° and 35° respectively and all the cars were on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tyres. Norman did three laps in Group A before returning to the pits to fit new tyres and he returned to the track with just over nine minutes to go. The young Frenchman was immediately up to speed and his first flying lap saw him fastest with a lap of 1:21.359s and he then improved to 1:20.185 which was good enough for 3rd and on his final lap he pulled out a superb time of 1:19.894s to finish the session as the fastest.

Jordan followed a similar strategy to Norman returning to the pits after a few laps and then returning to the track again with less than ten minutes to go, his first flying lap was a 1:23.264s to go 4th and then he made a big improvement to 1:19.691 to lie 2nd. On his next quick lap Jordan set a new personal best in the first sector but an accident to Markelov at Ste Devote saw a red flag forcing all the cars to return to the pits while the damaged barrier was repaired. After a long delay the cars returned to the track but with less than four minutes left Jordan did not improve on his earlier time so finished the session in second.

Tomorrow’s Feature Race will see Sirotkin, who set the fastest time over the two sessions, start from pole position with Norman next to him on the front row of the grid and Jordan right behind in 3rd so both of the Racing Engineering drivers will be looking to a good race with victory a strong possibility for either of them.
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Team Comments:

Alan Queille, Race Engineer: “We started well in free practice with both our drivers finishing the session in the top 5, so things looked positive for qualifying. We were able to continue this way in qualifying with Norman topping his group and Jordan finishing in second in his group. This means that they start tomorrow's race second and third respectively and our goal is to bring as many points home as possible.”

Norman Nato: “Free practice was important as we had a good pace straight away. It was our plan to mount the super-soft tyres only at the end of the session to prepare for qualifying. Therefore, setting the second fastest time with only one push lap was encouraging and pole was our goal for qualifying. After the second push in qualifying I was in third place only two tenths off pole. On the following lap I gave it my all, used all the car and track to take pole in my group. It was a positive day even though I am a bit disappointed as group B was quicker when the track improved. But it's a good starting position and it's going to be a long race, especially here in Monaco.”

Jordan King:: “We started off on old tyres to get a feel for the circuit and the car balance, then we switched to new tyres and had a really good peak of grip allowing me to do a good time on lap 1. Unfortunately, lap 2 was shortened by the red flag, but it looked like it would have been a bit quicker. After the restart I couldn't get enough tyre temperature to improve, but enough was done on the first lap which is very pleasing for other tracks.”
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