BATTLING KRAL TAKES NINTH, PALMER OUT OF LUCK
Josef Kral gave a stellar performance in the first of this weekend’s two GP2 Series races at the Hungaroring, Budapest, fighting his way through the tightly packed midfield to finish ninth.
The Czech lost one position on the opening lap and the first half of his race was relatively quiet. After making his mandatory tyre stop on lap 14 he lay 12th, at the tail of a six-car group squabbling for seventh. During the race’s closing stages he passed Fabio Leimer (Rapax) around the outside of Turn One, moved into the top 10 when Sam Bird (iSport) made a second tyre stop and finally nailed Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) with a solid move on the final lap. Ninth place meant he just missed pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race, but it was one of the afternoon’s most spirited drives.
The race was a touch calmer for team-mate Jolyon Palmer. The Englishman paid the price for an early tyre stop and a high rate of degradation obliged him to pit again before the end, for more fresh rubber. He finished 22nd, one lap in arrears.
Josef: “I made quite a good start, but nearly touched Gutierrez at Turn One and lost a couple of places. I was trying to push hard to stay with the group ahead, which was a bit of a struggle at first, but eventually I managed to get closer. We had a good pit stop, but the tyres began to lose their edge quite early in my second stint, so I backed off for a while to save them. That paid off in the closing stages and I was really pleased with my last-lap move on Dani Clos – that was eight on the edge and I slightly damaged my front wing in the process. I just missed pole for the reverse-grid race, but I feel positive after an afternoon like this and hope to convert my improved form into a points finish tomorrow.”
Jolyon: “My start was OK, but I lost time during the first stint because I was held up in traffic. The car felt good, but there was high tyre degradation and that’s why I made a fairly early pit stop. That enabled me to jump a few people, but the tyres began to fade again so I had to make a second stop and ended up 22nd. That’s not a great place to be starting a race anywhere, let alone here at the Hungaroring, but I will try to look after the tyres better tomorrow, to learn a few lessons that will work in my favour at Spa.”