Excellent 3rd position in today’s Singapore Feature Race for Fabio Leimer and Racing Engineering.
As the lights went off Filippi was very slow away from pole position and Fabio Leimer took advantage to move up to 3rd from 5th on the grid and he was immediately trying to pass Gutierrez for 2nd but he left a small gap and lost a place to Palmer. As the cars were completing their first lap several back markers were involved in an incident which resulted in a car being stranded on the track and the Safety Car was deployed.
Racing resumed on lap 3 with Fabio in 3rd behind Palmer and leading Valsecchi, and the top four cars were able to take advantage of the restart and open out a gap on the rest of the field. At the end of lap 3 Fabio was 0.7 seconds behind Palmer and 1.6 seconds ahead of Valsecchi. On lap 7 the Racing Engineering driver made his mandatory pitstop switching to the prime tyre option and resumed the track in 15th position.
Fabio was soon up to 10th as other cars made their stops and he gained a further place on lap 10 when Cecotto, who was just ahead of the Racing Engineering car, crashed. By lap 13 all the cars had made their stops and Fabio was now running 5th, 2.8 seconds behind Palmer and 2.6 seconds ahead of Valsecchi. Over the next few laps the three cars closed up and on lap 16 the gap between them was down to 1.2 seconds and Fabio was now sitting on the gearbox of Palmer and looking to pass him at every corner and on lap 17 he passed the iSport car to take 4th place.
The young Swiss driver’s next target was Filippi who was 9.5 seconds ahead in 3rd place. The gap was soon dropping dramatically and by lap 20 Fabio had closed in to within 3.6 seconds but the race was approaching the 45 minute mark leaving just 15 minutes for Leimer to close the gap and pass the Scuderia Coloni car but amazingly, within two more laps, the Racing Engineering car had closed the gap and Fabio was able to make the pass on acceleration out of a corner.
Fabio was now in 3rd place 19.5 seconds behind Gutierrez in 2nd and with just 9 minutes remaining there was no chance to close the gap and gain another place. With just three minutes remaining an accident to Filippi saw the Safety Car called out effectively bringing the race to a finish.
Nathanaël Berthon lost several places on the opening lap dropping to 15th and as the Safety Car returned to the pits he was involved in a battle with Richelmi who was just ahead and Nasr who was following the Racing Engineering car. Lap 4 saw the young Frenchman lose a place to Nasr and two laps later he made his mandatory pitstop, switching to prime tyres, and resuming the track in 21st position still chasing Nasr.
By lap 12, once all the pitstops had been completed, Nathanaël had moved up to 16th place and he had dropped away a little from Richelmi in 15th place but within four laps he had closed the gap again and Leal, who was just behind, had joined in the battle for what was now 14th place. On lap 24 Nathanaël was able to pass the Trident Racing car and, following incidents to other cars, was now in 11th. The accident to Filippi in the dying minutes of the race saw the Racing Engineering driver gain another position to finish 10th.
A good race for Racing Engineering with Fabio finishing on the podium and Nathanaël finishing in the top ten in what was an incident filled day. Fabio will start 6th on the reversed grid for tomorrow’s Sprint Race and he will be looking for another podium finish whilst Nathanaël will be aiming to score as many points as possible.
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: "A very difficult race today for everybody. The tyres suffered enormously and thanks to good tyre management and a four tyre change, although slower than only changing the rears, it paid off in the end. Fabio did a great race considering the conditions, so he deserves the podium. As for Nat, not bad at all, he did a great job saving his tyres, which resulted in a top 10 points finish. Congratulations to the whole team, not easy, but they did a great job. Now let's get ready for tomorrow, we can still make up some positions in both championships in the last race of the season."
Fabio Leimer: "I think we can be very happy today. I had a really good start and I tried to overtake Gutierrez but by doing so I lost a position to Palmer. After that I stayed behind Palmer and we decided to do the pit-stop quite early due to the yellow flags. I knew that I would have to save the tyres quite a lot in the second stint, so I think we did well. Then Palmer and Filippi started to struggle a lot with their tyres and I managed to overtake both of them. During the last laps, it was all about saving the tyres and reaching the chequered flag. I'm really happy, a big thank you to the entire team."
Nathanaël Berthon: "I had a good start but then a bad first lap; I was in a bad position at every corner. Then I should have stayed out slightly longer on track with the option to push on in free air. We weren’t lucky at the pit stop, it cost us a lot of time due to traffic in the fast lane. After that it was very difficult to drive because the car was damaged due to someone coming from the rear and crashing into my right hand side on lap 2, possibly it was Melker. So I didn't have a good pace but the damage didn't help for sure. I managed to save my tyres better than the guys around me and I overtook Richelmi and was going to overtake Haryanto when the Safety Car came out."
Source: Racing Engineering