Brilliant second place for Julián Leal and Racing Engineering in the Sprint Race today at Spa Francorchamps.
Fabio Leimer made a good start from 5th to gain a place into La Source but during the course of the opening lap he lost places to Quaife-Hobbs and Coletti, who was on the soft compound Pirellis, to cross the line 0.2 seconds behind Coletti and 1.0 seconds ahead of Dillmann.
Although Fabio was losing ground to Coletti by lap 3 he was able to keep the gap to Dillmann at just over one second and three laps later saw the Racing Engineering car still in 6th position, 1.4 seconds behind Coletti and lapping faster than the Rapax car and 1.8 seconds ahead of Dillmann.
By lap 9 Fabio had closed right in on Coletti and he out-braked the Monegasque driver on the inside into Eau Rouge to take 5th place and he quickly opened out a gap. On lap 11 Fabio set his fastest lap of the race so far to show how well he had conserved his tyres and he was now 7.4 seconds behind Richelmi and 4.0 seconds ahead of Dillmann.
With just a few laps remaining Fabio concentrated on holding onto his position and with none of his rivals in a points scoring position it was important for the young Swiss to finish the race without incident.
Julián Leal made an excellent start from 3rd on the grid to pass Richelmi into Eau Rouge and by the end of the opening lap the Racing Engineering car was 2.6 seconds behind Calado and 1.1 seconds ahead of Richelmi. Over the next five laps Julián kept the gap to Calado at about 2.5 seconds and he was pulling away from Quaife-Hobbs who was now 3rd.
The young Colombian now began to close the gap to Calado and on lap 8 he had moved to within two seconds of the ART car but Quaife Hobbs was now just 1.7 seconds behind.
Julián continued to close on the leader and by lap 10 the gap was now down to 1.3 seconds and he had opened out the gap to Quaife-Hobbs to 2.6 seconds. He continued to lap faster than Calado and with six laps to go the Racing Engineering car was now just 0.9 seconds behind. Julián continued to apply pressure and with four laps to go he was right on the gearbox of the British driver but Quaife-Hobbs was catching the battling leaders.
With just two laps to go Julián was still pushing hard and looking for a place to pass Calado while Quaife-Hobbs had dropped away a little as his rear tyres were starting to wear but although the Racing Engineering driver was able to close within 0.4 seconds he had to settle for a superb second position at the flag.
An excellent race weekend for Racing Engineering with both drivers scoring points in both races and Julián Leal finishing on the podium for the first time in his GP2 career. In the Drivers’ Championship Fabio is still 3rd but now just one point behind Nasr and seven points behind the leader, Coletti and Racing Engineering are up to 3rd in the Team Championship. The Spanish team now return to their Sanlúcar de Barrameda base to prepare for the next round of the 2013 GP2 series at Monza in two weeks’ time. spacer
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "A very good result today for Julian Leal today with a well-deserved second place. He drove well from start to finish showing a strong and stable pace finishing only 4 tenths of a second behind Calado. Fabio scored again, which was the target, even if we were hoping for better results.
Considering the potential of his tyres, it was hard for him to do more today. Fabio was able to close in on Nasr and Coletti in the championship battle, but it's all really tight now. Overall the team and car performance was strong in qualifying and both races and we will work hard to continue like this in the next events."
Fabio Leimer: "The start was not great, but OK. I already started yesterday's race with this set of tyres, so they were already under quite some stress yesterday, but they were fine. I took P4, but on the straight Quaife-Hobbs was much faster and passed me.
When I was in 5th, I saw that the cars in front on new tyres were too quick for me, so I took off some speed in order to make it to the end with this set of tyres. In the end, I am satisfied with P5 and also as I made up points again in the championship. Now it's a really close battle for the title and I think the last three events will be very interesting."
Julián Leal: "Before anything I would like to thank my team for the good work this weekend. I started from 3rd position in race 2 and a good start was crucial. I managed to have a good one and was in second place after the first corner. After that I had a really good pace during the entire race and towards the end I was closing in on Calado.
But when I pushed to reduce the gap, my tyres were suffering more and I was therefore controlling the pace during the closing laps to not risk second position. I am very happy with the result achieved. We worked hard to get here and the objective is to become better in qualifying to achieve even better results."