The weather for today’s 37 lap Feature Race was good with blue skies and a track temperature of 37°, much warmer than had been the case for Friday’s practice and qualifying.
As the lights went off Fabio made a good start but there was immediate contact between the Racing Engineering car and Calado who chopped across the front of Fabio’s car and the nose wing was ripped off causing him to run wide at the first corner and with his car now handling very badly he had no choice other than to pit at the end of the opening lap for a new nose and tyres, resuming in 24th place.
Fabio was determined to make up as many places as possible and he was immediately lapping as quickly as the race leader Ericsson, and, as the cars ahead took their pitstops, Fabio was soon 13th, just behind Richelmi with 11 laps gone.
The young Swiss driver continued to lap very quickly and he was soon closing in on Richelmi and Lancaster who were just over three seconds ahead and by lap 17 the gap was down to one second with Fabio now 12th as all three cars had passed a slowing Quaife-Hobbs.
As the race approached the final 12 laps Fabio was starting to suffer from tyre wear but contact between Dillmann and Richelmi allowed him to gain a place but he lost it again two laps later to continue in 12th.
With 9 laps remaining Fabio had to take his mandatory pitstop as the first lap stop was outside the window within which all stops have to be taken, the Racing Engineering car returned to the track in 20th place but with only a handful of laps remaining there was no chance for Fabio to finish any higher than 18th at the end of the 37 laps.
Julián also had problems on the opening lap when several cars ran wide delaying the Racing Engineering car and at the end of lap 1 the young Columbian was in 20th place 1.0 behind Evans. Julián took his mandatory pitstop on lap 7, resuming in 22nd place and he was now chasing the ART car of Abt.
For the rest of the race Julián continued to chase the German driver and as cars ahead took their mandatory stops he moved up to 15th place. Although he continued to drive as quickly as possible he was unable to improve on 13th place at the flag.
With both cars starting from the bottom half of the grid in tomorrow’s Sprint Race, it will be a difficult day for both Racing Engineering drivers but Fabio and Julián will try their hardest to gain as many places as possible and score more points.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "Disappointing race results today. Fabio was squeezed between two cars when Calado closed the door on him. This completely damaged Fabio's front wing and he was forced to immediately pit. This obviously ruined our strategy and his chances to finish on the podium, or at least in the points.
Julian's start wasn't ideal either as he had to go wide to avoid debris on track. Then he fought well during the race, but we still need to improve to finish in the points and also work on better starting positions."
Fabio Leimer: "Today was very disappointing. I had a pretty good start, but Calado's was even better. I was already next to Bird with Calado next to me, when James all of the sudden and without any reason, as he had no one ahead of him, moved over to my side. I went off the accelerator, but it was too late and he destroyed my front wing.
I first thought I could stay on track long enough to make it to the pit stop window, but it was too dangerous so I needed to immediately pit.
Therefore I needed to pit again towards the end. It's a real pity as a lot was possible today because we were very fast on the primes, but Calado ruined my race for the second time this season."
Julián Leal: "I had a good start up to where I had to avoid debris on track and had to go wide. Therefore I lost many positions. I was able to recover a bit then, but starting on soft tyres meant we had to opt for an early tyre change.
We then had a lot of laps to do on the hard compound, but the result was positive. I gained several positions although it could have been more. We will work hard on preparing for tomorrow's race now."