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pic 27/08/16 Jordan King takes a superb second place for Racing Engineering today at Spa.

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It was very hot today at Spa Francorchamps for the 25-lap Feature Race with air and track temperatures of 32° and 40°, several degrees hotter than it had been yesterday for Qualifying. Norman Nato and Jordan King, the two Racing Engineering drivers, were starting on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft compound tyres and would switch to the Orange hard compound at the mandatory pitstop but there was a mixture of tyre strategies through the field with many going for the reversed choice but most of the front runners were adopting the same plan as Racing Engineering.

Giovinazzi was slow away from pole position and Norman took advantage of the error to take 3rd place into the first corner and he finished the opening lap 0.5 seconds behind Gasly and 0.6 seconds ahead of his teammate Jordan. The front runners were making sure not to overstress their soft compound tyres and the gaps remained constant over the next four laps but on lap five Gasly passed Malja for the lead and immediately Norman closed in on Malja and was looking for a place to pass and on lap six he used his DRS to pass the Rapax car and take 2nd position.

Norman took his pitstop on lap eight, resuming in 10th place, right behind Jordan and just over one second ahead of Malja. On lap 13, just past the halfway point Norman was just 0.8 seconds behind Jordan and a further 1.3 seconds away from Gasly. On lap nineteen Norman was now 3rd on the road as all the pitstops were completed but on lap twenty, as he exited the final corner, his car suddenly stopped in the middle of the track as his radiator had been punctured by some debris on the track causing his engine to overheat and he had to retire immediately.

Jordan was also able to overtake Giovinazzi at the start and he took 4th position and he was 0.6 seconds behind Norman and 0.8 seconds ahead of Giovinazzi as he completed lap one. Over the next few laps Jordan held the gap to Giovinazzi and he began to close in on Norman and as his teammate passed Malja Jordan immediately looked for a way get ahead of the Swedish driver and, as both cars made their mandatory pitstop on lap six, a superb tyre change by the Racing Engineering team saw Jordan leave the pits ahead of the Rapax driver in 16th place. Jordan now began to push hard and when Gasly took his pitstop on lap seven the young Englishman was able to pass the Frenchman as he left the pits and he set the fastest lap of the race so far with a time of 2:02.349 but on the following lap Gasly was ahead again using his DRS to pass Jordan.

On lap ten Jordan was just one second behind Gasly and both men were producing very similar lap times and Norman was in turn right behind him and they were now effectively running first, second and third as all the cars ahead were yet to pit. Jordan was soon passing the cars that hadn’t stopped and on lap 14 he was 7th, 1.4 seconds behind Gasly and 0.7 seconds ahead of Norman. The Racing Engineering driver lost one second in passing Eriksson as he caught the Arden car on a part of the track where he couldn’t take advantage of DRS but he was soon lapping in similar times to Gasly again and on lap 18, as all the cars completed their pitstops Jordan was now 2nd with seven laps still to go. Norman’s retirement saw a short Virtual Safety Car period which meant Jordan was unable to close the gap to Gasly and he had to settle for a well-deserved second place at the chequered flag.

A very mixed race for Racing Engineering with Jordan taking an excellent 2nd place but Norman being the victim of very bad luck when he retired from 3rd place with only a few laps to go. Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Jordan start from 7th on the reversed grid and, with the pace he showed today, he will have a good chance to be on the podium again. Norman’s unfortunate retirement will see him start from 21st but he will drive as hard as ever to try and climb into the point scoring positions.
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©GP2
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Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger, Team Engineer: “This was a race of mixed emotions for us today. On Jordan’s car all went according to plan. He had early degradation on options as he was stuck behind Malja, but communication between Jordan and the pit wall was perfect. This together with a very good pit stop made him virtual race leader after the first group of drivers pitted. Unfortunately, Gasly managed to get by Jordan, who brought the car home in second place. Norman, on the other hand, was behind Jordan after the pit stop, but with fresher tyres, so all looked like set for a double podium for us today. But all of the sudden Norman’s engine stopped and he had to retire, Norman's engine overheated as he unluckily had track debris hitting the radiator of his car. This is a blow for Norman’s and the team’s championship contention and it’s a very bitter pill to swallow but we will work very hard tonight to bounce back tomorrow scoring some precious points.”

Norman Nato: “My start was OK and I was in third after the first corner. Malja, in front of me, suffered from tyre degradation quite quickly, so Gasly and I could easily overtake him. At the end of the stint I was quicker than Gasly, so we decided to pit one lap later than him. Jordan overtook me in the pits, but we knew we would have two laps less on our tyres at the end of the race. At this point I was not at the limit as my target was to push at the end of the race, so I saved my tyres. Even like this my pace was very good and the lap before my race ended I was 4 tenths quicker than Jordan and approx. on the same pace like Gasly. But, all of the sudden, my engine switched off and we know now that a screw hit my radiator, which is really unlucky. I think I definitely had the pace for P2 today and maybe even for the race win.”

Jordan King:: “Great result! It’s really good to come back from the summer break and get a Feature Race podium straight away. I can’t thank the team enough for how they executed the race plan to give me the best opportunity possible. I’ll be focusing on tomorrow to score as many points as possible, but today is a real positive we can take as a team and learn from for the future.”
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©GP2
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©GP2
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