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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.”

Leimer Secures Abu Dhabi Pole Position.

Fabio Leimer took the Racing Engineering team to the top of the times for the GP2 feature race at Abu Dhabi tomorrow morning, having secured top spot with five minutes of the session remaining.

The Swiss driver had showed some speed during the morning practice session and he finished with a 1m49.363s, having recovered from an earlier spin at turn nineteen.

Spanish racer Dani Clos took Rapax to the top of the times during the early stages but the first driver to break the 1m50 mark was Josef Kral for Arden International, who had opened up a gap of half a second over the rest of the field.

Kral’s session topping time was unbeaten for the vast majority of the session and the chasing pack were busy trying to close the gap and the next drivers to dip below the 1m50 barrier were Leimer and Clos, Clos finishing a mere 0.02s off Kral.

After ten minutes, Leimer put his head down and his spin at turn nineteen was down to him pushing even harder and this ended his chance of Pole Position and as the session reached the mid-way point, Kral was still on top of the times – ahead of Clos, Luiz Razia (Caterham Team AirAsia), Jolyon Palmer (Barwa Addax Team), Kevin Ceccon (Scuderia Coloni) and Leimer. The top nineteen drivers were covered by a second as the field returned to the pits.

Hoping for a clear track, Clos was the first driver to return to the track but on his fast lap, he lost out as cars on their out lap hampered his effort, while Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART) was also in the hunt and he managed to find a clear lap but his efforts weren’t enough and the morning session topper couldn’t improve on his sixth place.

Leimer found some extra speed in the Racing Engineering car with five minutes remaining as he found the clear lap he required to set the fastest time of the session to secure himself pole position.

Clos’ efforts left him second on the grid, just ahead of Kral, while further back, Gutierrez saw his session finish prematurely as he stopped out on track with technical gremlins. This brought out the red flags with three and a half minutes remaining, and once the session resumed, nobody could match Leimer’s lap.

Behind the top three drivers, Razia finished fourth ahead of Palmer, Max Chilton (Carlin), Ceccon, Gutierrez, top GP3 graduate Tom Dillmann (iSport International) and Stefano Coletti (Scuderia Coloni).

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.”

Bird, Kral and Richelmi Confirmed for Trident at Barcelona.

Trident Racing has announced the three drivers who will test for them during the forthcoming two day GP2 test, which is due to be held over the 19/20 October at Barcelona.

Two weeks after the first of two post season tests ahead of the flyaway Abu Dhabi GP2 non Championship final, the team returns to the track, looking to continue their progress from the first test at Jerez.

Joining the team for the opening day will be Stephane Richelmi, who raced for them in place of Stefano Coletti at Monza while in the second car, will be GP2 Podium finisher Josef Kral.

The second day will see GP2 race winner Sam Bird rejoin the team alongside Richelmi. Both Bird and Kral will be looking to continue their positive form with the Italian team and their technical staff after the positive test at Jerez.

Barcelona marks the end of the European season for the GP2 Series as once the test is completed, they will make their way to the Yas Marina Circuit for the Non-Championship GP2 Finale.

Trident Confirm Jerez Line Up.

Trident Racing have announced their driver line up for the forthcoming two day GP2 test at the Jerez circuit in Spain, which takes place over the 28/29 September.

With the season having finished just two weeks ago at Monza, the teams’ and drivers’ have had a short break before the first test after the conclusion of the season.

Joining the Italian outfit for the two day test at Jerez will be Julian Leal, who spent the 2011 season in the Rapax car, while the second car will be shared by Josef Kral, who secured a podium finish for Arden International and Sam Bird, who was a title contender for iSport International.

Kral will be in the car for day one while Bird takes over on day two, while Leal will test for the team both days.

“We’re really satisfied with our driver line-up for the test at Jerez. We’ll have three really talented drivers, experienced in the series and really familiar with its Dallara-Renault racecar. That will allow us to complete a huge amount of work in the two days on-track. The testing schedule will then bring us to Barcelona, where we plan to have also some younger racers looking to make their championship approach. We’ll keep following our tradition of relying on the talent of promising youngsters,” said Trident Racing Managing Director, Luca Zerbini.

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

Filippi Victory Sets Up Five Way Scrap for Second at Monza.

Luca Filippi Celebrates his Second GP2 Victory of 2011.

Luca Filippi will head to Monza as one of five drivers who can end the 2011 GP2 Series as vice Champion after he secured his second victory of the season for Scuderia Coloni during the Spa Sprint race.

Rounding out the podium was Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and Pole Sitter, Josef Kral (Arden International) – Bianchi is another one of the five drivers who can still finish second to Champion Romain Grosjean (Dams).

As the lights went out to signal the start of the race, Kral made the perfect start to lead into La Source while moving up from P11 to second was Johnny Cecotto Jnr (Ocean Racing Technology) – the Venezuelan chose the right side of the track at the start and took P2 from Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova Racing) on the inside of La Source. Ending the opening lap in third was Filippi, who had dispatched both Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) and Fauzy during the lap.

Kral was out in front and in control, opening up a 2.9s gap to Cecotto, who was defending with all his worth to keep hold of second from Filippi, he lost the position at Eau Rouge but Cecotto soon fought back and retook second from the Italian.

Behind the battle for second, the action was just as intense as Bianchi moved ahead of Clos at the Bus Stop Chicane; the Spaniard had just lost a position to newly crowned Champion Grosjean. Up at La Source, Bianchi made a move on Grosjean but lost out to Clos in the end, who took the opportunity to dive back ahead.

Filippi finally got ahead of Cecotto on lap seven and he was the quickest driver on the track, lapping a second faster than the race leader, Kral. The Safety Car soon made an appearance after Fabio Leimer (Rapax) lost the rear of his car at Eau Rouge and crashed heavily into the tyre barrier. Despite the damage to his car, the Swiss driver walked away unharmed.

Once the Safety car had been withdrawn, Kral led but couldn’t shake off Filippi – who then moved ahead after Eau Rouge and never looked back as he sprinted his way to his second victory of the 2011 campaign.

Behind, Cecotto was under pressure from Fauzy, Grosjean and Clos; the Ocean Racing Technology was determined to hold on to his podium spot. Fauzy was soon out on contention after running wide at La Source. This gave Cecotto some breathing space as Grosjean, Clos and Bianchi were keeping each other entertained.

Heading to Eau Rouge, the three of them ran side by side and it was Bianchi who came out on top at the bottom of Eau Rouge, before taking P3 from Cecotto at the Bus Stop chicane. He then set his sights on Kral in P2.

Soon, Cecotto had dropped a position to both Grosjean and Clos. The squabble between Clos and Cecotto saw Sam Bird (iSport International) join in the fun and soon, he was up to P5. Meanwhile, up at the front, Filippi continued to extend his lead as Bianchi secured his second runners up position of the weekend on the final lap. Soon, Grosjean was hunting down Kral but the Arden driver was able to keep the Champion behind him. This left Grosjean fourth ahead of Bird and Clos.

With his second victory of the 2011 GP2 Series, Filippi has moved up to fifth overall, just nine points off current second place driver, Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team), while Bianchi has closed to within a point of second after his brace of seconds at Spa. With twelve points covering van der Garde in second and Bird in sixth, the battle to be the 2011 GP2 vice Champion is set to be an exciting prospect at Monza.

GP2 Sprint Race Result, Spa-Francorchamps:





Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni


Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART


Josef Kral

Arden International


Romain Grosjean



Sam Bird

iSport International


Dani Clos

Racing Engineering


Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART


Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology


Brendon Hartley

Ocean Racing Technology


Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia


Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing


Marcus Ericsson

iSport International


Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering


Jolyon Palmer

Arden International


Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni


Max Chilton



Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing


Pal Varhaug



Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team


Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team


Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing


Mikhail Aleshin



Julian Leal



Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia


Fabio Leimer



Stefano Coletti

Trident Racing

Picture Credit: Glenn Dunbar/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