One-two for Racing Engineering!
Round six of the 2003 World Series by Nissan brought precious points for Racing Engineering and its drivers. In race one Bas Leinders was celebrating his first and long waited for victory in the 2003 season. Racing Engineering's dominance in race one was underlined by Stephane Sarrazin's second place. In race two Bas one more time demonstrated his outstanding performance in Austria by finishing second and on the podium again.
Racing Engineering is second in the team championship with Stephane Sarrazin second and Bas Leinders third in the drivers championship.
The first Austrian race of the World Series by Nissan made Bas Leinders shine almost more than the sun. Under perfect weather conditions Bas started from pole position and was very quickly overtaken by Montagny at the start. Too quickly, the stewards of the race decided and therefore penalized Montagny with a stop and go for his jumpstart. Bas being back in position one had no problem anymore driving to his first and so much deserved victory.
Stephane Sarrazin going into the race from position three on the grid kept his position at the start and moved into second when Montagny came into the pits for his time penalty.
Both Racing Engineering drivers created a comfortable gap to the rest of the field and celebrated their first double victory in the 2003 season.
Racing Engineering's drivers already knew before the race that it wouldn't be easy to get on the podium as Saturday's second qualifying saw Bas Leinders only in fifth and Stephane Sarrazin in sixth position.
One more time it was Bas, who all TV cameras were focused on. After overtaking Kovalainen in lap one Bas put a lot of pressure on Jouanny running in third position. When Bas came in for the obligatory pit stop in lap eleven Racing Engineering's crew knew that these important moments together with Bas' perfect performance on this Sunday could make the almost impossible happen. Bas pushed very hard, marked the fastest lap in the race and moved up to position two where he continuously reduced the gap to Montagny during the remaining eight laps to less than a second. Bas finished race two in second position and went on the podium again.
Stephane Sarrazin's strategy for the second race turned out to be the wrong one. Knowing that starting sixth on the grid makes it hard to get on the podium Stephane made some major changes on his car, which turned out to be not working the way he wanted. Stephane therefore opted for an early pit stop in lap five, rejoining the race fourteenth. He made his way up the classification again and finished the race seventh.
After this very successful day Bas Leinders announced, "We have worked very hard and today I had an almost perfect car. I think it is hardly possible to have a better car. I was third in the drivers championship last season and I am going for second this year. Concerning the rumors occurring in Spain that I would not finish the season I would like to say that I will not quit this championship and am also thinking about participating in the World Series in 2004."
Stephane Sarrazin, a bit disappointed, said, "For the second race we tried something very different from race one. It was no good choice and I lost a lot. But when you are starting sixth you have to take a risk. In general the weekend didn't go so well for me. We lost in performance and I never had a very good feeling with the car. In race one at least I had a good result."
After Sunday's races Alfonso de Orleans, president, stated, "Bas did an awesome job this weekend. Honestly, we could not have asked him for more than that. A pole position, a win, a second place and the fastest lap, that's a brilliant driver. As for Stephane he did a fantastic job this weekend as well, even though he took a setup risk that didn't pay off. But that doesn't take away his fantastic qualities as a driver. I am really pleased with both these drivers and the team as a whole since the mechanics have been their best all season. Thanks to a wonderful team, we really did it."