To win or not to win? Fortuna did not have an eye on Racing Engineering's drivers for the two Sunday races in the Belgian circuit of Zolder. Stephane Sarrazin, winner of the first race for around three and a half hours, was disqualified for ...
To win or not to win?
Fortuna did not have an eye on Racing Engineering's drivers for the two Sunday races in the Belgian circuit of Zolder. Stephane Sarrazin, winner of the first race for around three and a half hours, was disqualified for overtaking Gene too early and was confronted with a 25 second penalty that made him fall back into last place. Bas finished the first race third, which was then corrected to second place. In the second race Stephane was stopped by technical problems already in the warm up lap, whereas Bas, fighting for third position, was pushed off the track and faced a very dangerous accident.
Stephane started into the first race from position three. He lost one position at the start, but came back into third after an early exit for Montagny. When Karthikeyan in lap ten went off the track, he moved into second position and very soon became a real danger for Gene in first though the exit of the safety car enabled Gene to stay upfront four laps longer. When the safety car regained the pits, Stephane, preparing to overtake after the line, accelerated and all of a sudden was confronted with a slowing Gene. In order to avoid an accident he went on the right side of Gene and took over first position. Stephane increased the gap to Gene enormously in the remaining five laps and was first on the podium.
Bas Leinders, starting the race fifth, was in a very safe third position after the mistakes of Montagny and Karthikeyan. Bas quickly closed the gap to Gene, who he battled for second position. When Bas tried to overtake before the chicane, Gene not only crossed the line twice, but also jumped the chicane, which allowed him to increase the gap between him and Bas. Bas finished race 1 in third place.
After the race there was a complaint against Stephane Sarrazin overtaking Gene before the finish line and he was therefore given a 25 seconds penalty that put him in last position. Bas moved up into second position. Racing Engineering's complaint against Gene for his non-sportive driving was rejected.
As Racing Engineering's drivers stuck to the rules in yesterday's second qualifying session and did not jump the chicane in order to mark a better qualifying lap time, they went into the second race in eighth and tenth position. Stephane suffered from technical problems in the formation lap that forced him to retire before the race even started. On the other hand Bas had a very good start from tenth and was already seventh after two laps. He came in for an early pit stop that was not perfect due to the jag getting stuck under the car but still made him gain another position.
Bas made his way to fourth and fought with Ravier for position three, when Ravier pushed him off the track in a corner and Bas, in a spectacular and especially very dangerous accident, slid into Gene's car in second position. Ravier found his way through the accident scene with two completely destroyed cars and finished in second place receiving only an official warning from the race stewards.
After this unlucky Sunday Stephane stated, "Obviously I am very disappointed. We won the first race. The team did a very good job to get the car prepared after I crashed in warm up and the car was very good. Winning the race proved this. We were faster than anyone else. About the second race, there is not much to say. I faced technical problems."
At the end of a very emotional race day Bas Leinders announced "As a team we once more proved that we are very competitive. Of course I am happy with the second place. For the second race I started tenth and had nothing to lose. I had a very good start and was seventh after two laps.
"We opted for an early pit stop. Although we had a little incident during the pit stop, I gained one place. And then everybody else made their pit stop and I was fourth. Concerning the accident in the last lap I can say that I was actually beside Ravier and also on the inside of the next corner, so in third position. But Ravier decided to push me to the grass and I had a very big and dangerous accident sliding into Gene. I am sorry for Gene. He deserved second position."
Alfonso de Orleans Saturday mentioned, "The team did a tremendous job and it shows that the work paid off. But sadly due to certain incidents their work has not been awarded appropriately. We really have a group of fantastic people that have been able to consolidate into a very good team."