On lap five, race winner and Conor Daly set the top two fastest race laps.
Noblesville, IN -- The word used by new German team owner Franz Hilmer was 'Fantastisch' when he described Conor Daly's GP2 debut this weekend in Malaysia.
In what even the locals described as blazing heat and humidity, Daly not only showed his ability to manage his excessive tire wear but perhaps his biggest statement was posting the second fastest race lap on Sunday morning.
"I am so pumped right now - what a crazy five days for me," said Daly. "To think I was sitting in London last Tuesday night and twelve hours later I was standing on what felt like the surface of the sun it was so hot - just crazy. Hilmer has been fantastic to me and I'm so glad that it all went so well for them because I know it was a risk to take a rookie to Malaysia.
I was a little sore all over afterwards particularly the muscles in my hands, but it's all worth it."
Having missed all of the pre-season testing in Jerez, in March and with just a total of three hours of dry weather testing in Barcelona in April, Daly went on to produce one of the more impressive GP2 debuts ever.
At the start of Sunday morning's race two, Daly shot off the line from P13 and finished lap one in eighth place.
"The car had too much oversteer and I just didn't know how hard I could push the tires with a heavy fuel load. I decided to sit at the end of the lead group to let things settle down a bit. When the fuel load lightened I started to push a little more," said Daly.
On lap five, race winner Stefano Coletti and Daly set the top two fastest race laps while the tires were still somewhat fresh. It was at this stage that team owner, Franz Hilmer mused on what might have been.
"Without the drive through penalty in race one on Saturday, Conor would have finished eighth instead of thirteenth. That would have put him on the reverse grid pole for Sunday and it looks as if he was fast enough to potentially win the race. We would have created a big story," said Hilmer.
Saturday's race one saw Daly qualify sixteenth fastest. When the start lights went out Daly was forced to avoid a stalled driver right in front of him and the resulting wheel spin and avoiding action pushed him down to P23 at the first corner.
By the time he pitted for his mandatory tire change, he had climbed to thirteenth. A group of drivers including Daly were than handed drive through penalties for going through a timed sector too fast on their out lap while there was a yellow flag caution light on.
That pushed him down to P21 before he charged back to finish thirteenth. Along the way he gave an indication of his pace by setting the fifth fastest race lap - faster than two of the podium finishers.
Daly now heads back to London in preparation for the next round of GP3 testing in Silverstone, England on April 3rd - 4th.