Dani Clos to start from front row in Abu Dhabi Racing Engineering has finished the first day of competition at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi with Dani Clos setting the second fastest time in qualifying. The Spanish driver battled heavy ...
Dani Clos to start from front row in Abu Dhabi
Racing Engineering has finished the first day of competition at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi with Dani Clos setting the second fastest time in qualifying. The Spanish driver battled heavy traffic to get the most out of his fresh tyres and finished in an excellent second position, allowing him to start Saturday's GP2 feature in Abu Dhabi from the front row. Ho-Pin Tung, who joined Racing Engineering last night to replace sick Christian Vietoris, had his first contact with a GP2 car in over three months. The Dutch Chinese driver finished today's qualifying in 23rd position.
Although the GP2 Asia stopped over at Abu Dhabi last winter, it was the first time for the GP2 Main Series to race in Abu Dhabi and therefore the first time for Racing Engineering to compete at the fantastic Yas Marina circuit.
Therefore, arriving at the Yas Marina circuit was a learning experience. With targets in the drivers' as well as the teams' championships.
It was already very warm when the GP2 cars started the first session of the day on a dry Yas Marina track. With GP2 the first ones to run in Abu Dhabi this weekend, the track was quite dirty and had no rubber on it yet, which resulted in a challenge for the entire field. The lack of grip was the major problem for most drivers. However, both Racing Engineering drivers were content with their cars and finished the session in 11th and 15th place.
Right after qualifying everyone at the Abu Dhabi track was able to witness a spectacular event - rain in the desert. A short but heavy shower washed the rubber off the tarmac again, meaning that Friday's qualifying was to be very demanding.
When the lights turned green for the afternoon qualifying session, all drivers were quick at joining the session as all their skills were requested today. After his first flying lap, Dani was in seventh position, while Ho-Pin, who drove a race car for the first time since his accident in Budapest at the beginning of August, was in 22nd. In the meantime it was Bianchi, who set the temporary reference time, which was quickly improved by Turvey. With lap times quickly changing, Dani found himself in 9th position when he came into the pits to pick up a fresh set of tyres halfway through the session. Shortly after Dani, it was Ho-Pin who entered the pits after having clocked the 18th fastest time. Rejoining the session on new tyres, both Racing Engineering drivers suffered from traffic and Dani dropped back to 12th position. With only four minutes to go, Dani finally found a clear lap and set the fastest time. It was during the last minute that Turvey set an even faster time, taking pole away from the young Spaniard in the Racing Engineering car. Dani finished the session in an excellent second place and will start tomorrow's feature race, which is scheduled to take place at 11:00 (8:00 CET), from the front row.
Ho-Pin's first qualifying ever at the tricky Yas Marina circuit and after such a long period of recovery, was not displaying the Gravity driver's potential properly. Although many new factors came into play for Ho-Pin, as he never drove at this track before, had his first work day with the Racing Engineering crew and only found out last night that he would race today, the Dutch Chinese driver was delivering a solid performance. He could have qualified better for tomorrow's race, if he had a bit more luck to find a gap allowing him to set a fast lap without being hampered by traffic. Ho-Pin will have to start the feature race from 23rd position and will take advantage of the 33 laps of Saturday's race to climb the standings.
Dani Clos: "This was a positive qualifying session. We have been able to set one good lap time, which made us achieve this good result. Tomorrow will be different and we need to continue working in order to achieve yet another good result. We are happy today, of course, but the weekend is still long and the aim is to score as many points as possible."
Ho-Pin Tung: "Well, it's been a long time since I last drove and it's also been my first time at this track and with Racing Engineering. It didn't help, that in qualifying, on my second set of tyres, I had no lap in free air at all. I think we should have definitely qualified higher up. But I have to say that Yas Marina is a very nice race track."
Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, President of Racing Engineering: "Fantastic work from Dani. A front row start is a great result. There is no reason for not making a decent podium out of it. But the main aim is third position in the drivers' championship. For Ho-Pin it was a complicated day where an extremely steep learning curve was required. Being with us for the first time, not knowing the track, a long pause since the last time in a race car and knowing about his drive quite late, are all factors that he quickly tried to tick off his list and I have to say that he settled into our work mode quite well. I am sure we will see more progress during the rest of the weekend. Fantastic work also from all the boys. As usual, they have been working without fault, like all season. Congratulations to everyone and let's prepare tomorrow's race now."