Leimer sails to 2011 GP2 Final win
Racing Engineering driver dominates feature race at Yas Marina Circuit
Fabio Leimer claimed his maiden GP2 Feature Race win today at Yas Marina Circuit. The Swiss racer took a lights-to-flag victory with a dominant drive, and in spite of his closest rival Luiz Razia’s best efforts to try and reduce the gap, Leimer remained in perfect control of his Racing Engineering machine all race long and was never in danger. Jolyon Palmer in third pocketed his first GP2 podium finish.
When the lights went off, Leimer launched from pole position perfectly. Behind him, Dani Clos made a slower start from P2 and then found himself caught in between Josef Kral and Razia. With no space to go to at Turn 1, Clos and Kral came together ending the Rapax man’s race prematurely and sending the Czech into a spin. The incident allowed Razia and Palmer to get past and free to chase Leimer. But the Swiss drivers pace proved to be difficult to match for Palmer who in turn had to look into his mirrors to try and keep a charging Esteban Gutierrez at bay. The Lotus ART man made a blazing start from P8 and looked hungry for more after a disappointing qualifying result. But the poor Mexican’s hopes for a podium today were crushed when he had to re-enter the pits in order to repair a damaged rear wing sustained when he was hit by Stefano Coletti at Turn 1 on the first lap.
With Leimer maintaining a good gap at the front, Razia’s only hopes of stealing the lead was during the mandatory pitstops, but the Swiss man pitted two laps after the Brazilian. He re-emerged second ahead of Razia and behind Palmer who pitted a lap later and handed the lead back over to the Racing Engineering driver.
Behind the Leimer/Razia duo, Palmer who had had a rather lonely first stint, then had to hold off pressure from Marcus Ericsson. The iSport ace started from thirteenth on the grid and made a perfect start that put him in P8. His pace enabled him to move up to P4 after his pitstop on Lap 13 and he kept on pushing until the last lap. However, that was not enough and Palmer retained his first podium finish.
At the chequered flag, Leimer who had clocked in the fastest laptime for good measure savoured his victory ahead of Razia and Palmer, and pocketed a perfect thirteen points. Ericsson finished fourth ahead of Kevin Ceccon. The final three points-paying places were claimed by GP3 graduates Tom Dillmann, Antonio Felix da Costa (who recovered from P15 on the grid) and James Calado. The Lotus ART man will start from tomorrow’s reverse pole.