Asia: Qatar: Fisichella MSI weekend summary

The GP2 Asia Series heralded in a new era for the category this weekend by holding its first ever night race at the 5.38km Losail International Circuit near Doha in Qatar. Fisichella Motor Sport International was in attendance for the fourth round...

The GP2 Asia Series heralded in a new era for the category this weekend by holding its first ever night race at the 5.38km Losail International Circuit near Doha in Qatar. Fisichella Motor Sport International was in attendance for the fourth round of the 2008/09 championship with Rodolfo Gonzalez and Kevin Chen once again in action for the team.

Free Practice got underway on Thursday in tricky conditions as a twenty-four hour sandstorm beforehand led to drivers heading out onto an extremely dirty track in very breezy conditions. Beginning his second GP2 event, Rodolfo was able to get 15 laps of practice under his belt, recording a fastest lap of 1:42.052. Unfortunately Kevin was unable to participate in practice due to technical issues with the car, putting him firmly on the back-foot as teams approached the afternoon's qualifying. Suffering due to his lack of practice, Kevin qualified at the back of the grid after the 30-minute session with a lap of 1:43.139. Rodolfo's fastest time of 1:38.384 was 22nd on the timing sheets, setting him up on the 11th row of the grid for Friday's race.

The fortunes of the drivers were somewhat reversed in Friday's 34-lap feature race. Rodolfo was a victim of an incident involving Yelmer Buurman and a stalling Sakon Yamamoto, getting caught up in their startline accident, which put a premature end to his race after he hit the wall trying to avoid the crash. Kevin had a consistent race, performing well and eventually crossing the line in 18th place, an improvement of eight positions to his starting spot.

In Saturday's 23-lap sprint race, Kevin began from 18th and Rodolfo from 25th on the grid. Kevin had a solid race, crossing the line in 23rd. Rodolfo got crucial experience over the 23 laps and was setting impressive times towards the end of the race. He finished in 19th position, six places above his starting position.

The penultimate round of this GP2 Asia campaign will take place 4-5 April at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia as a supporting event to the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Paolo Coloni, Team Principal: "We have been encouraged by the team's performance in Qatar. It was unfortunate for Kevin to miss practice and so he had to go straight out and qualify. We were impressed with Rodolfo in qualifying as he was 14th until the last minute of the session. In Friday's race Rodolfo hit the wall trying to avoid the crash, which caused damaged suspension and Kevin also ran over debris from the same crash. In a way we were actually fortunate not to sustain worse damage. In the second race, Kevin put in a solid performance while Rodolfo was setting lap times at the end equal to the front runners. From the next race I would welcome a bit of luck for both drivers from the start of the weekend."

-credit: fmsi

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Series FIA F2
Drivers Sakon Yamamoto , Paolo Coloni , Kevin Chen