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pic 04/09/16 A brilliant flag-to-flag victory for Norman Nato and Racing Engineering today at Monza.

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The weather for today’s Monza 21 lap Sprint Race was a noticeably cooler than that which the teams had faced in yesterday’s Feature Race with air and track temperatures of 26° and 30° respectively. Yesterday’s Feature Race saw Norman Nato finish 5th and Jordan King 7th so, on today’s Sprint Race reversed grid, Jordan would start 2nd and Norman 4th. The two Racing Engineering drivers would race on the Pirelli P Zero White medium compound tyres as tyre wear was not expected to be a problem as Pirelli estimated the tyres were good for thirty-two laps. Today the GP2 Series was celebrating its 250th race, an important milestone in its history.

Norman made a super start from the second row passing Ghiotto. Evans and his teammate Jordan to take the lead into the first corner but there were several incidents further down the field and the Virtual Safety Car was briefly imposed before racing resumed. Norman opened out a small gap as the cars started again and as he completed his second lap he had a 0.5 second gap over Jordan. By lap 5 the gaps between the leading cars were very similar with Norman leading Jordan by 0.8 seconds with Gasly still a close 3rd.  However, the Racing Engineering driver was now pushing hard and he was gradually pulling away from Jordan and on lap eight he had a 1.8 second gap which meant that Jordan could no longer use his DRS.

As the race reached the halfway point Norman’s lead was now 3.8 seconds ahead of Gasly as he concentrated on not making any mistakes and he and Gasly were now setting very similar lap times. On lap sixteen Norman’s lead was 4.3 seconds as the two men continued to lap within one tenth of a second of each other and there was nothing the Prema driver could do to close the gap and at the end of the twenty-one laps he took a brilliant victory 4.3 seconds ahead of Gasly to give Racing Engineering their 27th win in the Series.

Jordan made a good start passing Evans but as he entered the first corner he was passed by Norman but Jordan stayed on the gearbox of the other Racing Engineering car but Gasly was close behind him and at the end of the second lap, following the Virtual Safety Car, he was 0.5 seconds behind Norman and 0.6 ahead of Gasly. Jordan was now involved in a very close battle with Gasly and on lap six he was just 0.5 seconds ahead of the Prema car with the Frenchman having the benefit of DRS. On lap ten Gasly used his DRS to pass Jordan along the main straight and for the next half a lap the two cars ran side-by-side as they battled, very fairly with both men giving the other enough room, for second place but Gasly had the better line and moved into second but Jordan sat right behind the Prema driver.

On lap fourteen Jordan had begun to drop back a little and he was now 2.5 seconds behind Gasly and he was starting to come under pressure from Giovinazzi who was now 1.2 seconds behind and moving within DRS range. Jordan was now fighting very hard as Giovinazzi closed in and on lap eighteen he had to concede the palace as the Prema car used its DRS to pass him on the main straight. Jordan was now being chased by Malja but the Swedish driver had received a ten second penalty earlier in the race so he was not concerned when he was passed with one lap to go and he crossed the line in a hard-fought 4th place.

A wonderful day for Racing Engineering with Norman taking a very well deserved victory to make up for his disappointment in yesterday’s race and Jordan’s 4th place was an added bonus for the team. There is now a four-week gap until the teams meet again for the penultimate round of the 2016 GP2 Series in Kuala Lumpur.
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©GP2
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Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger, Technical Director: “A good start from both drivers today. It was a bit close during the first corners, but it was OK to finish lap 1 in first and second. Norman was quickly up to pace and from there on dominated the race. We need to look into what happened with the other car as for some reason Jordan was not able to follow his teammate's pace without stressing his tyres too much. He ultimately got passed by both Prema cars and a Rapax car cutting the corner, something we hope will still be investigated. First and fourth is still a good result for the team even though after the opening lap we expected a bit more, but we are back in the fight for the championships.”

Norman Nato: “The start was great and during the first few laps it was difficult to create a gap on Jordan. But as soon as I escaped his DRS I was able to increase the gap and manage it all race long on Gasly. Today we were clearly the fastest on track and I was able to control the race and Gasly behind me at any moment. I am happy today we were able to show our speed without any incident outside of our control affecting our race.”

Jordan King:: “My start was good, but not quite good enough to hold the lead into Turn 1. I then tried to stay with Norman and Pierre, but didn't have enough pace and couldn't keep the tyres alive so I gradually just dropped off.”
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©GP2
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©GP2
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