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pic 30/09/16 Racing Engineering’s Norman Nato and Jordan King qualify in the top eight today at Sepang.

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In a change to the usual procedure the Free Practice session was held on Thursday afternoon, 16:05 local time, and it was overcast at the track with air and track temperatures of 31° and 42° respectively for the start of the shorter than usual 30-minute session and with 63% humidity it would be very tough for the drivers with cockpit temperatures of 55° expected. Norman Nato and Jordan King, the two Racing Engineering drivers, were out on to the track as soon as the session began and, like all the other cars, they were using the Pirelli P Zero Orange hard compound tyres as they began working on the set-up of their cars for Friday’s Qualifying and the races on Saturday and Sunday.

Jordan was quickly on the pace as his first flying lap saw a time of 1:43.736 to go 2nd fastest and Norman was only a little slower on 1:44.085 for 7th. Jordan then reduced his time to 1:43.364 for 3rd and Norman lay 4th just a fraction behind his teammate on 1:43.380 and the young Frenchman’s next fast lap saw him go fastest of the two Racing Engineering cars on 1:42.933 while Jordan improved further to 1:43.068. With 12 minutes of the session still to go both the drivers returned to the pits for some set-up adjustments returning to the track with five minutes’ left. Jordan immediately reduced his time to 1:42.938 for 5th and he then leap-frogged Norman, who didn’t improve, with a final lap of 1:42.896 for 4th.

Today’s Qualifying was again held in the afternoon at 15:55 local time and the weather was hotter than yesterday with air and track temperatures of 34° and an incredible 55° respectively but the humidity was down to 46% as the 30-minutes session began. Norman and Jordan were amongst the first out on the track and all the cars were now using the softer Pirelli P Zero White medium compound tyres. Norman went fastest on his first flying lap with a time of 1:42.800 with Jordan just a little slower on 1:42.926 but the lap times were falling fast and Jordan’s next quick lap improved his time to 1:42.851.

After twelve minutes both of the Racing Engineering drivers returned to the pits for some set-up changes and a fresh set on medium compound tyres and they returned to the track with just eight minutes of the session to go. However, just as the cars were getting up to speed, an accident to Mitch Evans saw the session red flagged with 3:34 left and with just enough time for one flying lap but with all the cars close together on the track finding space would be difficult and then a yellow flag meant that none of the drivers were able to improve which left Norman and Jordan in 7th and 8th.

Tomorrow’s Feature Race will see Norman and Jordan start from the 4th row of the grid but their speed in recent races mean that both men will be looking for a place on the podium and more points in the battle for the Team and Driver Championships.
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Team Comments:

Sebastien Viger, Technical Director: “It’s fair to say that we are quite disappointed with this session. Yesterday the pace was not so bad and we had room for improvement, but today the car was not quite where it should have been. Having said that, we could have extracted more from this session as we could have honestly targeted a top 3 result. There have been unusual differences in the driving today, so we will have to analyse this in depth with the drivers in order to iron out things for tomorrow but tomorrow will be another day and we will give our best shot in order to get back to the front. The race will be long and a lot can happen.”

Norman Nato: “On my first set of tyres I set the seventh fastest lap on my first push lap, it wasn’t a perfect lap, but neither a terrible one overall. With the second set of tyres we didn’t have the chance to do a single complete push lap due to the red flag and yellow flags afterwards, which deactivate the DRS. I think our focus has to be on the races now as they will be difficult for the tyres and also physically for the drivers. So anything can happen during these two races.”

Jordan King:: “Overall it was a tough qualifying session given the speed we showed yesterday and everyone would have wanted more from the session. I think we can still have a strong race tomorrow given where we are starting. So tomorrow I need to get my overtaking-head on to make progress and finish on the podium. It will be an interesting race with the DRS zone, as to how to overtake.”
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