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Winning return for Razia and Arden

Luiz Razia and Arden International got their 2012 GP2 Series campaign off to the best possible start after securing the feature race honours at Sepang, the venue for the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series.

For Razia, the victory marked his first in GP2 since 2009 while for Arden; it was their first victory since the beginning of the 2010 campaign.

Having seen the original start aborted due to two stallers on the grid, Razia made the best start on the restart to take the lead immediately from Pole man Davide Valsecchi and the Brazilian never looked back, taking the chequered flag after thirty laps by 7.8s from Valsecchi.

Speaking about the race, Razia said: “I made a very good start and was able to open a sizeable lead during the first six laps. I tried to maintain a consistent pace, to extend tyre life, and radioed in to make a pit stop just before half-distance, as soon as I sensed that the tyres were starting to go off a little. We just fitted fresh rears, which was the correct call, and after that I ran at a slightly reduced pace to keep my tyres fresh at the end, just in case.

“Davide was very quick in the middle of the race, but less so towards the end and I was able to finish without any pressure. It was still very difficult, though, trying to adopt a sensible pace and monitoring what tyre strategies our rivals adopted. It has been a good day and I am now focusing on tomorrow. I hope to make another good start and will see how things progress. It will be tough making a single set of tyres last, so astute judgment will again be critical.”

For Simon Trummer, his first race of the season was a story of contact – having been collected on the opening lap at turn four before later being involved with Rodolfo Gonzalez as he finished twenty first overall.

GP3 Graduate Trummer said about his race: “I got away well and had passed several cars by the time I reached Turn Four, but somebody then hit me from behind. That caused damage to the rear of the car and upset the balance, so I made an early tyre stop and we changed all four wheels. My pace was quite good after that. I’m happy to have finished, but less so about the incident at the start. I hope to do better tomorrow.”

Front row for Razia on Arden return

Luiz Razia

Luiz Razia starts his second spell as an Arden International driver on the front row of the grid after a tight qualifying session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, the venue for the opening weekend of the 2012 GP2 Series.

The Brazilian driver drove for Arden in the 2008/2009 GP2 Asia Series started off with a seventh place result  in practice before moving up the order in qualifying, and he finished the session with a 1m45.554s.

Razia is pleased with how the day went but feels that the hard work is still yet to come: “This has been a very good day for the team – and the same is true for me. To qualify at the front has been a great confidence booster, although the oppressive climate here makes racing tough, no matter where you line up. There’s always a chance of rain, too, so I’m expecting things to be difficult.

“It is important to remain focused, to minimise any risk of error, and we have to keep an eye on the strategic permutations. The situation has changed this season, with the adoption of different tyre compounds, and we need to look at the data to see whether it’s best to choose hard-hard or medium-hard for the race. One of the key objectives today was to save tyres for the race – and we managed to do that while lapping quickly. It has been a very positive start, but the hardest bit lies ahead.”

Razia’s team-mate is GP3 graduate Simon Trummer. Having made his debut in the non Championship GP2 Final at Abu Dhabi, he will start his first main series race from row twelve, as he learns about the cut and thrust nature of GP2.

He admits that he is disappointed with how his qualifying went as team-mate Razia proved that the potential is there for the team: “I know there is potential in the car – Luiz proved that much – so I have to be a little disappointed with my own result. I was happy enough with the way things were going and felt fairly sure I could qualify in the top half of the field, but I didn’t manage a clear lap on my final run and slipped back to 24th. It is all part of the learning process, though, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to move forward in the race.”

Kral and Arden denied Abu Dhabi Podium.

Josef Kral and the Arden International team were denied a podium finish during the feature race of the season finishing GP2 Final at Abu Dhabi, after being spun out of contention at the first corner.

Having lined up third after Friday’s qualifying session, the Czech racer was ahead of Dani Clos heading into the first corner but he was on the outside line and the two cars touched as they attempted to take the corner two abreast.

Kral was spun out of contention and dropped to the rear of the field, where he then had to restrict the damage on his race.

He managed to recover to fifteenth position before more contact, this time with GP3 graduate Nigel Melker. He suffered front wing damage in the collision and despite racing on for a few laps with the damage, he was then forced to pit for repairs and he finished a lap down in twentieth position.

“I got a good start and thought I was in a strong position to get ahead of Dani Clos,” explained Kral. “I couldn’t see that he had Luiz Razia to his inside, though, so the situation was a bit more cramped than I realised. I tried to move left, but Clos was coming to the right and we touched, which caused me to spin and damaged my rear suspension. After that I pushed as hard as I could and gained a few positions after my pit stop, but then I came up against Nigel Melker. He was very aggressive and I ended up losing part of my front wing. I continued to drive as quickly as I could, but then I had to pit again and the day turned into a bit of a disaster.

“There are no pit stops in tomorrow’s race and there is no chance to gain a strategic advantage, but I’ll do what I can to make up ground from a lowly grid position.”

GP2 debutant and team-mate Simon Trummer had a solid opening lap as he moved up to eighteenth from his starting position of twenty second and was able to lap consistently alongside the lower end of the midfield until his race came to a premature end after a collision with Jake Rosenzweig.

Trummer is looking to learn from his race ending mistake but admits that he faces an uphill task in the second Abu Dhabi race: “The race began well enough, but the balance of my car changed on the second set of tyres and I lost front-end grip. That’s partly why I made a mistake and crashed out at Turn Eight. It hasn’t been the greatest of starts to my GP2 career, but I’ll learn from it and move on. I face an uphill battle tomorrow, but I’ll do the best I can.”

Kral, Trummer for GP2 Finale with Arden.

Arden International has today announced that Josef Kral and GP3 Series graduate Simon Trummer will be the drivers for the team during the GP2 Finale at Yas Marina this weekend, 12/13 November.

Czech Republic driver Kral has been with the team since the start of the season, having driven for the team in both the GP2 Asia and GP2 Main Series campaigns and he secured points in both Championships, as well as a podium finish at Spa-Francorchamps.

The last time Kral visited the Yas Marina circuit, he finished in the points in the points scoring positions and on the podium.

Kral said about the announcement: “I am very happy to be back in the team where I raced all season. I hope that we can build on the experience what we gained throughout the season and hopefully turn in to some good results in Abu Dhabi.”

Trummer spent the 2011 campaign racing in GP3, for the MW Arden outfit and during the two post season tests; he secured some successful results and proved himself within a GP2 car.

The opportunity to race for Arden in the GP2 finale is a season highlight for Trummer, as he explains: “It is definitely my season highlight to race with such a great team as Arden in Abu Dhabi! I’m so happy that I have this chance! After a great test I feel really comfortable with the car and in the team. I feel like I have raced for them all my career, so I will give my best for do a good job and I hope we will are successful!”

As announced by the GP2 series organisers, the trip to Yas Marina is for a one-off non championship event alongside the penultimate round of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship.

The unique event will see all thirteen teams take part in the event and Pirelli, the official tyre supplier to GP2 and GP3 have offered a financial reward to the top two GP3 series graduates. Trummer is eligible for this reward.

Garry Horner announced that he is pleased with the teams’ line up for the Abu Dhabi trip: “I am pleased that both Josef and Simon will be racing with us in Abu Dhabi. It is great to continue our relationship with Josef into this event at Yas Marina, where he has had successful results both in testing and racing. Having tested Simon in both the GP2 post-season tests with good results, we are pleased to give Simon the opportunity to move up into a GP2 car and stay within the Arden team.”

Arden International sees 2011 Season End with Mixed Emotions.

Arden International signed off their 2011 GP2 Campaign with both cars finishing one race and both cars also encountering difficulties during the final two races at Monza.

Saturday’s feature race, the penultimate race of the season saw both drivers fail to finish after coming together at the first corner of the second lap. Having started on the sixth row of the grid, Josef Kral had ended the opening lap tenth while team-mate Jolyon Palmer was back in twelfth.

Both drivers were within touching distance of the points paying positions early on but the nature of the Monza circuit meant that pitfalls were always going to be likely – and so it proved at the first chicane.

Heading on to the second lap, Kral was hit from behind and was spun, and in the spun he accidently took out team-mate Palmer, who had been trying to avoid the incident ahead. This put both cars out immediately and they’d have to start from the back of the grid in the second race.

Speaking about his race ending incident, Kral said: “I made a pretty good start and the car felt well balanced, so after gaining a couple of places on the first lap I was confident I’d be able to make further progress. I know the race had only just started, but I was convinced I had the potential to score points. At the start of the second lap, however, Michael Herck clipped me from behind, which was plain silly. I spun around and my car rolled back into Jolyon’s path. There was nothing he could have done to avoid me. It’s a huge shame, but I hope to make amends tomorrow – no matter how difficult that might be.”

Palmer was also unimpressed with the driving of Herck, which ultimately caused his downfall: “I have made some good starts recently, but today’s was a bit average and I lost one place immediately when Michael Herck passed me by cutting the first chicane. I attempted to regain the place, but he kept trying to drive me off the track. I managed to overtake him at about the third attempt, but he then passed me again by outbraking himself into Turn One. In the process he took out a couple of cars, including Josef’s, but I managed to avoid the initial incident. Unfortunately, however, I reached the second part of the corner and saw Josef’s car heading towards me – the end of the afternoon for both of us. It’s a real shame.”

After the disappointment of seeing their final Feature race of the season ended after just one racing lap, the team headed into the final race of the season looking to bounce back and finish on a high note.

Starting back in twenty fourth (Kral) and twenty fifth (Palmer), they faced an uphill task to recover any points but they both delivered controlled, consistent drives to bring home a two car finish.

Having moved into P17 and P19 by the end of the opening lap, the dup were then unable to make any more progress during the remainder of the sprint race and took the flag in the same positions.

It was a low key end to a season full of ups and downs for Arden International, a season which has seen podiums for Kral while the inevitable Motorsport frustrations.

Summing up his final race of the season and his first full GP2 campaign, Kral said: “I got off the line well, but the car ahead stalled and I had to take to the dirt to avoid contact. I was quite close to the pit wall, and getting lots of wheelspin, so lost a few places on the run to the first turn. I managed to recover most of those during the course of the opening lap, but then the race settled down. I made several attempts to pass Rodolfo Gonzalez… and it was in the middle of one of those that Davide Valsecchi passed me! It didn’t help that I suffered significant rear tyre wear this morning – there wasn’t much rubber left at the end – and it’s a shame that I haven’t really been able to exploit the car’s potential this weekend.

“Overall, though, it has been a tough year with some very positive moments and the team has done a great job. It is the first time I have completed a full GP2 campaign and I believe I’m a better driver now than I was when the season began five months ago.”

Palmer said about his final race and his debut season in GP2: “I gained a few positions in the early stages, but then ran wide at Lesmo 2 while trying to keep Davide Valsecchi behind me. After that I had a long race trying to make up time on the group in front – there’s not much else to say, really. I’m grateful to everyone at Arden for what has been a very enjoyable season, on and off the circuit. I have learned many valuable lessons and expect to return stronger next year.”

Kral Secures a Podium Finish at Spa.

Josef Kral leads at the start of the GP2 Sprint Race at Spa.

Josef Kral left Spa-Francorchamps with a podium finish to his name but must have wondered ‘what if’ as he saw his chance of victory taken away from him by the Safety Car.

Czech racer Kral started from Pole Position and pulled out a gap during the early laps as the rest of the field battled for position. He had opened up a comfortable advantage by the time the Safety Car had been deployed, due to the massive accident suffered by Fabio Leimer (Rapax) at Raidillon.

Once the race went live again, Kral was defenceless against Filippi, who got into the Czech racers slipstream and took the lead away heading to Les Combes. From there, Kral was busy dicing with Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and newly crowned Champion Romain Grosjean (Dams) – he lost out to Bianchi but held off the attentions of Grosjean to claim third but must have wondered whether he’d have secured the victory had the Safety Car not played its part.

Kral was pleased to secure a podium finish at Spa, as he missed the races here in 2010 due to injury. He said after the race: “I made a good start and set a strong pace during the first half of the race. I was able to pull away and felt very comfortable before the safety car intervened. My tyres obviously cooled off while the race was neutralised. I know it’s the same for everybody, but it took a while to get them back up to temperature and I was unable to contain Filippi at the restart. It is hard to defend down the long straights when your tyres aren’t at their peak. I was getting quite a bit of wheelspin during the second part of the race, so Bianchi passed me too, but I’m still pleased to finish on the podium – and particularly at somewhere like Spa, a circuit I missed last season through injury. I shall endeavour to repeat this performance at Monza.”

Team-mate Jolyon Palmer also had an impressive run, as he fought his way up the field to fourteenth from twentieth on the grid. A drowned engine during the feature race saw Palmer retire and put him back on row ten for the sprint race. The Englishman dropped a couple of positions early on but then fought back superbly to claim a creditable fourteenth place finish.

Palmer is pleased with his performance during the sprint race at Spa: “That was great. After losing a couple of places early on, I put my head down and was able to run at a really quick, consistent pace. The tyres held up really well and my lap times were as strong towards the end as they were at the start. It was an uplifting way to end a troublesome weekend and I hope to maintain this progress curve at Monza, to finish the campaign on a really positive note.”

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Chaos Reigns on Spa as Kral Secures P8.

Josef Kral Heads into La Source during the GP2 Feature Race.

Arden International saw Josef Kral finish inside the top eight during the GP2 Feature race at Spa-Francorchamps, and with it, secured himself Pole Position for the second race of the Belgian race weekend.

Starting fifteenth on the grid, Czech racer Kral made tremendous progress during the early running and found himself inside the top ten at the end of the opening lap. The twenty five lap feature race started off in the dry but rain was forecast for the latter part of the race.

The forecast rain arrived just after mid distance and most drivers used this as the opportunity to get in the pits and complete their mandatory pit stop, changing from the dry Pirelli tyres to the wet weather tyre.

During the pit stops, Kral gained one position but soon lost out to rival Dani Clos, just before the deployment of the Safety Car, due to a number of separate incidents around the circuit.

The Safety Car stayed out on track until the end of the twenty third lap, and left the field with a one lap sprint to the finish. At the restart, Kral found himself lying seventh after a car had slithered off under the Safety Car.

Kral took the chequered flag in seventh, but was docked a position after a procedural error while the Safety Car was out on track. This meant that Kral was demoted to P8, but promoted to Pole Position for the Sprint race.

Speaking about the race, Kral said: “I made a very good start and moved straight up to ninth, which almost became eighth when I drew alongside Fauzy at Eau Rouge. Things remained stable until the tyre stops, when I gained one position, but then Dani Clos passed me and I was unable to fight back because the safety car came out it was very difficult keeping temperature in the engine when the rain was at its worst. The engine began to overheat behind the safety car and I was afraid I would not finish, but it held out and I secured another points finish. It’s obviously good to be on pole tomorrow, so the target is simply to avoid any errors and obtain the best possible finish.”

Team-mate Jolyon Palmer was one of a number of drivers who failed to see the chequered flag. Out of the twenty six starters, only sixteen made it the full distance – Palmer was running eighteenth when he was forced to stop on lap seventeen.

Palmer explains why he was forced to stop: “I lost time early on when Charles Pic and Luiz Razia crashed in front of me, but I was able to claw back a few places. I was pleased with my consistency, but then the rain came and made life awkward for everybody. The car felt OK after I switched to wets, but my engine unfortunately ingested some water and I lost power, so was unable to continue. We will study the data to see where we can make a few improvements and I’m looking forward to a stronger race tomorrow.”

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Soggy Spa Welcomes Arden.

Josef Kral - GP2 Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps.

Spa-Francorchamps and difficult conditions go together, as the Ardennes Forest circuit normally experiences mixed conditions at some stage over a race weekend.

The GP2 Series, returning to action after their short summer break faced the worst of what the circuit is famous for – a famous capricious nature met the teams in Free Practice and Qualifying ahead of tomorrow’s Feature Race.

The good news to come from Belgium and Spa is that the hailstones, which had been forecast didn’t hit and overtaking should be possible during tomorrow’s twenty five lap feature race.

This will help Arden’s drivers, Josef Kral and Jolyon Palmer. Both drivers encountered a tough half hour qualifying session, with Czech Republic racer Kral finishing the session sixteenth.

Kral said after qualifying: “Practice was OK and I wasn’t too far from the pace in the first and third sectors. I couldn’t get the middle part of the circuit right, though, and that prevented me putting a decent lap together.

“I struggled with understeer on my first qualifying run, so we altered the set-up and that improved things for a couple of laps, but then the front tyres went away and I was unable to improve my time. There were yellow flags at the end of the session, too, which didn’t help. Given the changeable conditions, anything could happen in the race and I am firmly focused on a points finish. We’ll see what happens!”

British team-mate Palmer finished qualifying down in twenty third. He had caused the practice session to be red flagged after he slithered off the track moments after leaving the pit lane. He was unable to take any further part in the session after causing the red flag.

He said after qualifying: “Practice was awful. I made a mistake, hit the wall and didn’t manage any laps in. My lack of preparation made qualifying difficult, but I made a bit of progress during the session. Thanks to the guys for repairing the car – they worked very hard and I will try to reward their efforts in the race. Hopefully, the weather will play into my hands tomorrow.”


GP2 Spa TV Schedule:

Saturday, 27 August:

14.40, Eurosport 2: GP2 Series Feature Race, Live – 65 Minutes.

Sunday, 28 August

00.30, Eurosport: GP2 Feature Race, 30 Minutes
09.00, Eurosport 2: GP2 Feature Race, 35 Minutes
09.35, Eurosport 2: GP2 Sprint Race, Live – 50 Minutes.

Picture Credit: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service

Kral in Touch as GP2 Battle Gets Serious.

Josef Kral during Qualifying for the GP2 Series Feature Race in Hungary.

Josef Kral finished within half a second of Pole Position in qualifying for the Hungarian GP2 Feature race… yet he will line up on the sixth row of the grid.

The forecasted wet weather for qualifying failed to materialise but with an unbalanced forecast for Saturday and Sunday, Kral could capitalise from P12.

Kral said after qualifying:“We tried several different set-ups in free practice, in a bid to claw back some of the speed that has been lacking of late. That paid off, even if my position didn’t reflect as much because I didn’t manage to put three good sectors together during the same lap. I felt confident going into qualifying and my first run was good enough to put me eighth, even though I dropped a couple of tenths towards the end of the lap. We altered the set-up between runs, but I was unable to go any faster and subsequently dropped to 12th. We are close enough to the front to challenge for points, though, and that will be tomorrow’s aim. Overtaking here isn’t easy, so a decent start and a good tyre-change strategy will be vital.”

For team-mate Jolyon Palmer, it was a similar story. He finished just over a second off the pace – yet he will start the opening race from row eleven of the grid, in twenty first position.

After qualifying, Palmer reflected: “I haven’t driven here before and spent free practice learning the circuit. The car felt OK, though, and I was reasonably happy. Qualifying didn’t go quite as smoothly. The car is quick enough, but I didn’t manage to string together a clean lap – it was just one of those days when traffic and yellow flags kept getting in the way. I face an uphill struggle from such a lowly grid position, especially at a circuit like this where passing opportunities are at a premium, but as ever I shall give it my best shot.”

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Eifel Mountains Provide Uphill Task for Arden International.

Jolyon Palmer in Qualifying ahead of the German GP2 Feature Race.

As the GP2 teams’ took to the Nurburgring track in the Eifel Mountains, you’d have been hard pushed to believe that it was the middle of July. The rain may never have arrived but the chilly temperatures played havoc with the drivers ability to generate the required tyre temperature.

For Arden International, their German Grand Prix supporting GP2 weekend had started off on a positive note as Jolyon Palmer ended the Free Practice session inside the top eight but he was unable to replicate his Free Practice form in qualifying, with the British driver finishing twenty-second fastest.

Palmer said after qualifying: “Practice was quite good, I managed to set a reasonable time and finished eighth, with some easy improvements still to come. Qualifying was a disaster, though. I flat-spotted my front right tyre at the first corner on both runs. I had a big vibration throughout and my lap time wasn’t very competitive. I ended up 22nd and can only hope it’s really wet tomorrow.”

For team-mate Josef Kral, he didn’t do much better in qualifying as he could only set the nineteenth fastest time of the session.

Kral explained his day after qualifying: “Practice wasn’t as bad as my lap time suggested, because at least we knew where to improve. I was pretty sure that qualifying would be OK, but I did two laps on my first set of tyres and neither was quite quick enough. The car felt fine, so I wasn’t sure what needed changing. We tried a couple of tweaks, but unfortunately they made the car worse. I hit traffic, too, and couldn’t improve my time. My goal for tomorrow is to score points, though, and I’m confident that I can.”

With the weather forecasts currently predicting rain, both Kral and Palmer could yet record a strong result if the predicted rain arrives in the Eifel Mountains.

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service.