An excellent 8th for Nathanael Berthon in today's race.
Following yesterday's troubled race both Racing Engineering drivers found themselves starting from the back of the field with Nathanael Berthon in 19th spot on the grid and Dani Clos in 24th. Dani Clos found himself in trouble as he lined up on the grid for the formation lap when, as had happened yesterday, he stalled which meant that he would have to start the race from the pitlane. As the red lights went off Nathanael Berthon made a great start and was lying in 14th place by half way through the first lap and as the cars completed lap 2 he was lying in 12th, one second behind Cecotto and 0.8 seconds ahead of Palmer. Meanwhile Dani Clos was making up time from the pitlane setting the fifth fastest time on lap 1 and he soon closed in on Varhaug.
Lap 6 saw Berthon move up to 11th when van der Garde was given a drive through penalty and the young Frenchman was battling hard with 10th placed Cecotto with Palmer just behind him in 12th. The entire field were very close with less than 10 seconds between 6th and 18th so Berthon continued to press hard knowing that a good result was still possible. Over the next 4 laps Berthon gradually pulled out a 2.8 second gap over Palmer whilst still sitting on the gearbox of Cecotto and, three laps later, the pressure paid off when the Venezuelan made a mistake and ran wide and instantly the Racing Engineering driver was up to 10th.
Dani Clos was still running at the back of the field unable to get ahead of Varhaug and, in his efforts to gain a place, he inadvertently let the penalised van der Garde ahead. Meanwhile, Nathanael Berthon was making excellent progress and he quickly closed in on Gonzalez and passed him to move up to 9th. By lap 21 Berthon had dropped Gonzalez who was now nearly three seconds behind him and he now concentrated on chasing the 8th placed driver, Herck, who was 5.3 seconds ahead.
Berthon gained another place to move into 8th place, and a points scoring position, when Bird crashed and retired. He was now just 0.4 seconds behind Leimer who was now in 7th and the Racing Engineering driver was one of the quickest men on the track being one of just a small handful lapping below 1m 40secs. Sadly however the laps had run out and Berthon had to settle for 8th, just 0.2 seconds behind the Rapax driver, a very impressive result in only his second GP2 race. For Dani Clos it was a disappointing race and although he re-passed van der Garde he was unable to get ahead of Varhaug by the finish and he finished 22nd, however considering how badly his car was damaged yesterday it is a tribute to the Racing Engineering team, who worked all night, that he even raced today and with no opportunity to run the car before today's race this result was the best that could be expected and the team's hard work paid off.
Racing Engineering and their drivers will now prepare for the Bahrain races next week, both Clos and Berthon have shown that they are very quick in the new Dallara and, given a bit more luck than they had this weekend, they can both look forward with confidence to rounds 3 and 4.
Today has been a positive day. We had some problems on the grid, but it was normal since we rebuilt the car entirely in 12 hours. I am quite happy that we could finish the race since it is entirely new and never ran before. I really appreciate the job the team did and I will pay back the favour in Bahrain, I am sure of that. So let's prepare for that race as best as possible.
Happy with the result, but a bit disappointed yesterday since I could have finished P8, so I would have started from Pole today. This is just the beginning and it's a good step in the right direction. I know the car better now, but I need to still improve. So I will keep working in this direction. Thank you to all the team, mechanics, engineers and everyone else. They did a great job. Best rookie these last two days, so I am satisfied..
Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, president of Racing Engineering:
Wow, what a day, after not getting much sleep building a car from new for today. The impact yesterday was so intense that not much was left. I want to take this opportunity to thank absolutely everyone in the team for the great work they did putting all together and having it out on the grid on time for Dani. Still some points to sort out, but it will be in perfect shape for Dani in Bahrain. I also want to point out Nathanael's fantastic race today. He started in 19th position on the grid and just ploughed through the field, he is a wonderfully talented driver. Once again, thank you to everyone, fantastic job!
-source: racing engineering