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pic 18/06/16 A very difficult day today for Racing Engineering in the Baku Feature Race.

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Following yesterday’s Qualifying Norman Nato would be starting from the 5th row of the grid in 9th position with Jordan King one row behind in 11th for today’s 29 lap Feature Race at the Baku City Circuit. The weather was very hot with air and track temperatures of 29° and 46° respectively and both Racing Engineering cars were starting on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft compound tyres.

As the lights went off Norman made a great start passing several cars but Gasly made contact with Norman spinning him around and, as several other cars were also in trouble, the Safety car was deployed. Fortunately, Norman was able to spin his car around and continue but he was now at the back of the field. On lap three the Safety Car pulled in and Norman quickly passed Armand and then Malja to move up to 14th. Norman’s next target was Jeffri who was just over one second ahead but on lap five another incident saw the Safety Car out again and on lap six Norman took advantage of the Safety Car to take his mandatory pitstop and switch to the Pirelli P Zero White medium compound tyres resuming the race in 16th.

More yellow flags and another Safety Car period saw racing interrupted once again and it was lap eleven before the cars were back to racing mode. By lap 15, just after the halfway point of the race, Norman was right on the gearbox of Jordan’s car and both men were closing Eriksson who was in the car ahead of them. On lap nineteen Norman was out of the race when he made contact with Jordan and hit the wall removing his front left wheel and causing another Safety Car period.

Jordan made a very good start and was able to take advantage of the lap one incident to lie 6th and as racing resumed he was challenging Ghiotto for 5th with Markelov very close behind. On lap four the gap to Ghiotto was 0.6 seconds with Markelov just 0.2 seconds behind but on lap four the Russian Time car passed the young Englishman.

Jordan took his pitstop on lap seven and he was now in 13th spot just ahead of his teammate with both men trying to move up the field. Following the incident with Norman he was now lying in 11th place with his car showing some damage as a result of the contact and as the Safety Car was still out Jordan stopped at the pits to have a set of used Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tyres fitted. With the race now on a one-hour time limit Jordan, now in 12th place, made contact with Eriksson on the final lap causing him to retire.

A very disappointing day for the Racing Engineering team with both Norman and Jordan retiring from the race. Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Jordan starting from the sixth row in 12th position with Norman one place behind him on the seventh row. Both men will be trying as hard as ever to move up into the points and even try for a podium position.
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Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger, Technical Director: “This was a really disappointing race from a team point of view. Both drivers started well and were knocking at the door of the top 6, but unfortunately Norman was hit by Gasly in the first corner, which already compromised his chances quite a bit. Then with the Safety Car and Jordan in P6 there was some confusion and we have to apologise to our drivers as we miscalculated the pit stop window and missed it by one lap. This threw the drivers to the end of the pack and, trying to make up positions, they had contact with each other and Norman had to retire. Towards the end of the race, together with Jordan, we decided to take the risk and pit for a set of option tyres, allowing him to overtake and make it into the points. This strategy also allowed Daniel De Jong to make it to 8th place. But Jordan unfortunately had contact with Eriksson during one of these moves and had to retire. A bitter race for us today, but we will make sure all is going back to normal tomorrow to score good points with both cars.”

Norman Nato: “A disappointing race. I had a good start and I was fighting for P5 at Turn 1 when Gasly hit me in the back of the car and I spun and when I got back on track I felt the car wasn’t completely right and I was hoping for a Safety Car so that I could catch the pack up. When the Safety Car was out I changed to the medium tyres and I felt OK in the car and I was behind my teammate and we fought for a few laps until we made contact so it was a bad day for us. We start tomorrow from P14 and I think we have the pace to score some points so that will be the target. It’s not the end of the world that we didn’t score any points but I think the fight for the Championship will go on until the end but we need to keep focussed, learn from our mistakes and just think about the future.”

Jordan King:: “My start was good and I got up to sixth, I struggled a little bit on the first four or five laps with wear on the rear option tyres. I lost out quite badly under the Safety Car and ended up at the back of the field which made the rest of the race quite tough. You can overtake around here but it is a tight circuit so it is difficult. We were OK speed wise but every time I tried a move it never quite came off. We tried something at the end but never finished the race after some contact. Overall it is a bit annoying to be at the back of the grid when we were quick enough for a top five finish after the first lap. Tomorrow everybody will calm down a bit because they will know what they are doing and as long as I can manage the tyre temperatures we will be good but, if there are no Safety Cars, tyre wear will be more important than today but hopefully we can pick a few people off and make it into the points.”
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