QUALIFYING PENALTY LEADS TO TOUGH WEEKEND Carlin rookie Sam Abay set an impressive 4th fastest time in qualifying for race one on his first visit to the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit, before being one of five drivers penalised for recording...
QUALIFYING PENALTY LEADS TO TOUGH WEEKEND
Carlin rookie Sam Abay set an impressive 4th fastest time in qualifying for race one on his first visit to the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit, before being one of five drivers penalised for recording their quickest lap whilst a caution flag was being displayed on the circuit. With the penalty sending Abay to the rear of the grid for race one and starting 10th on the grid in race two, what had started as a strong weekend quickly turned to a test of character for the youngster.
"This is my first time driving on the full Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch and I love the track. Obviously the qualifying penalty has been extremely costly, but that's behind us and we just need to get on with the job and charge from the back." said the Australian.
Sunny skies greeted the grid of 27 competitors for race one of the weekend. Abay wasted no time beginning a stunning charge through the field when the lights went out. By the end of lap one the youngster had already passed five cars. By lap two, the Australian had moved ahead of Sebastian Hohenthal, the following lap past Stefan Wilson, Salman Al Khalifa and Viktor Jensen. Three laps into the race the Australian had already moved up to 17th position and set about closing the gap to Steven Guerrero. By lap 6 that task had been completed and he stormed past Columbian as well as Jonathan Legris, and Jay Bridger the following lap. Now 14th Abay gained another position as Max Chilton crashed out and with another successful pass on Ricardo Teixeira, Abay found himself in 12th position having gained an impressive 14 places in 11 laps. However it was there that the Australian's charge was halted, with a yellow flag brought out when Alistair Jackson suffered a heavy accident exiting Surtees bend. The field circulated behind the safety car for several laps before officials decided the situation called for the race to be red flagged, with Abay classified 12th.
"Yellow flags haven't been kind to us this weekend, but I thought our luck had changed when the yellow came out during the race. We were already up to 12th and I thought we'd probably be a reasonable chance to get into the top 10 and salvage some points if they got the race restarted quickly. Unfortunately the situation was more serious than we realised and called for the race to be stopped. We all have our fingers crossed that Alistair has escaped serious injury."
Team principal Trevor Carlin added, "Sam demonstrated some great overtaking moves. It's disappointing that the race ended under a red flag, but we understand that safety is the priority and hope that Ali is ok."
Race two proved a less eventful affair, Abay moving from 10th to 9th off the grid and latching onto the back of Sebastian Hohenthal. With no further passing amongst the top ten, the Australian would gather another two places when Brendon Hartley and Marcus Ericsson retired from the race allowing him to salvage 7th place from a challenging weekend.