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pic 31/07/16 Another disappointing race for Racing Engineering at Hockenheim as Norman Nato’s race is again ruined by another competitor.

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For the third day in a row it was cloudy at Germany’s Hockenheim circuit but it was noticeably cooler than it had been for the last two days with air and track temperatures of 22° and 29° respectively for today’s 27 lap Sprint Race. Yesterday’s Feature Race saw Racing Engineering’s drivers, Norman Nato and Jordan King, have very disappointing results when, following both men being hit by other competitors, Norman retired and Jordan finished 16th. However, a post-race penalty to Gasly meant that Jordan would start from the eighth row in 15th with Norman on the row behind in 17th. Both men would be starting on the Pirelli P Zero White medium compound tyres as there would be no mandatory pitstop in the race but the cooler track temperatures would help reduce the stress on the tyres.

Norman made a great start moving up to 13th place but, as the cars started lap two, he made contact with Jeffri in Turn 1 damaging his front wing and losing a place to Gasly. Despite the damage to his car Norman was racing hard and he repassed Gasly to regain 13th place on lap three and he was now just 0.4 seconds behind Jeffri. On lap seven Norman tried to pass the Malaysian driver but the Arden car didn’t leave any gap and both cars spun off the track. Norman was able to continue in last position but he had to return slowly to the pits with damage to his nose, Jeffri retired and was immediately given a penalty by the Stewards for driving another car off the track.

Norman was able to continue racing after some repairs in the Racing Engineering pit but he was now a lap down and all hopes of scoring a good result were now over. The young Frenchman continued to lap quickly but he was too far behind to gain any further places and he had to settle for a very disappointing 18th place.

Jordan gained one place at the start as he passed Latifi but he ran wide at Turn 1, he was able to regain the track but on lap two he lost two places to Gasly and Evans to lie 16th. Following Norman’s incident, a Virtual Safety Car period came into effect and as racing resumed Jordan, now in 14th place, was only 0.4 seconds behind Evans and on lap eleven he passed the Campos Racing car for 13th and his next target was Gasly. The retirement of Giovinazzi, which resulted in another Virtual Safety Car period, promoted the young Briton to 12th and he was now chasing Matsushita who had been passed by Gasly.

On lap twenty the Racing Engineering car passed Kirchhofer to take 11th and once again he was behind Matsushita and closing in on the Japanese driver and two laps later he was up to 10th. Jordan’s next target was Eriksson who was 0.8 seconds ahead but he was being chased by Markelov who had pitted and changed to fresher tyres and although he passed the Swedish driver on lap twenty-four he was passed by the Russian Time driver to remain 10th. With his tyres now at the end of their life Jordan was unable to gain any more positions and he lost a place on the final lap to cross the finishing line in 11th place.

This has been one of the worse weekends Racing Engineering has had in their long GP2 history with Norman having both of his races ruined by other drivers and Jordan also suffering from contact with other cars which left him with too much to do in today’s race so neither driver added to their points tally this weekend. There will now be a one month’s break before the GP2 teams race again at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
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Team Comments:

Alan Queille, Race Engineer: “It’s a real shame that Norman’s race was once more compromised by another driver hitting our car, especially as he was so happy with the handling of his car today. After starting from 17th, he was in a promising position to take a good amount of points home today, but instead he was sent into a spin and had to pit for new tyres and front wing. After that, Norman found himself at the end of the field without any chances left. As for Jordan, he recovered positions after starting from 15th and overtook several competitors on track. In the end it wasn’t enough and we had to settle for 11th. It was a tough weekend for us where the pace was good enough to fight at the front, but incidents with other drivers left us without the chance to show this. The entire team has worked very hard this weekend and it’s a shame this wasn’t rewarded with points, but we will make good use of the summer break and come back as strong as normal in Spa.”

Norman Nato: “My start was OK. I was 13th at the end of lap 1. I was behind Jeffri and tried to overtake, but backed off a bit to not stress the tyres too much when I saw Jeffri was driving at the limit. At the same point I saw he started to struggle with tyres and lost pace. I decided to pass in turn 8 and already prepared this move exiting turn 6. But Jeffri pushed me off the track so I went over the kerbs to avoid a collision and we both spun. It’s positive that the pace was good as well as the general handling of the car. We improved our car from yesterday and it’s a shame that because of yesterday I started so far back and thus had to fight with Jeffri. Performance-wise it was a good weekend, but if others hit us, there is nothing we can do.”

Jordan King:: “It was a solid race, the pace was quite good. We managed to make some places, but then didn’t quite have enough pace to come into the points. There are some positives to take away from this weekend but also a few things we can work on for Spa.”
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