Kral Takes Third... But It’s A Case Of What Might Have Been
Arden International came close to victory in this morning’s GP2 Series sprint at Spa-Francorchamps, but unfortunate circumstance kept Josef Kral from the top step of the podium. Having started from pole position, the Czech made a clean start to lead into the first turn and was then able to pull away from the pursuing pack. He soon built a comfortable advantage, but lost it on lap eight when the safety car was deployed after Fabio Leimer (Rapax) crashed at Raidillon.
When the race resumed, Kral was a sitting duck for the following Luca Filippi (Coloni), who was able to slipstream ahead as the two cars headed up the long straight towards Les Combes. Kral spent the balance of the race battling with Jules Bianchi (ART) and newly crowned champion Romain Grosjean (DAMS), but slipped behind Bianchi before the end to take a worthy third. Had it not been for the safety car, though, it’s unlikely that he would have been caught.
Team-mate Jolyon Palmer was similarly impressive, if less conspicuous. Condemned to 20th on the grid after a drowned engine forced him to retire from yesterday’s race, the Englishman dropped a couple of places in the early laps but then fought back to finish 14th.
“I made a good start and set a strong pace during the first half of the race. I was able to pull away and felt very comfortable before the safety car intervened. My tyres obviously cooled off while the race was neutralised. I know it’s the same for everybody, but it took a while to get them back up to temperature and I was unable to contain Filippi at the restart. It is hard to defend down the long straights when your tyres aren’t at their peak. I was getting quite a bit of wheelspin during the second part of the race, so Bianchi passed me too, but I’m still pleased to finish on the podium – and particularly at somewhere like Spa, a circuit I missed last season through injury. I shall endeavour to repeat this performance at Monza.”
“That was great. After losing a couple of places early on, I put my head down and was able to run at a really quick, consistent pace. The tyres held up really well and my lap times were as strong towards the end as they were at the start. It was an uplifting way to end a troublesome weekend and I hope to maintain this progress curve at Monza, to finish the campaign on a really positive note.”