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Points for Caterham Racing in Opening round

Giedo van der Garde brought home his Caterham Racing GP2 car to ninth place and two points in the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series in Sepang, Malaysia. The Dutchman just missed out on the grid switch for the second race.

For van der Garde, the result of ninth was all the more impressive having dropped down the field to sixteenth position on the opening lap, but he worked his way up the order to finish ninth, but with a limited amount of life left in his tyres.

Speaking after the race, van der Garde said: “I had an issue at the start of the race and didn’t get off the grid as quickly as I had hoped. By the end of lap one I was down about eight positions but after that I found my pace and was able to challenge and put some good passing moves on the cars ahead. We were really fast early on, and again after the pit stop, but towards the end of the race the rear tyre grip went off and we were struggling a bit. We can learn from that and know what we have to do tomorrow so the aim is to keep pushing and build on our first points of 2012.”

Caterham Racing team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez showed promise during the early stages of the race before seeing his race end prematurely on lap thirteen, after contact with another driver damaged his car.

Gonzalez said about his race: “I made a really good start and by turn four I had made up ten places and was running midfield, right in there amongst Ericsson and Giedo. Unfortunately I made contact with Ericsson which caused some problems and I dropped back. I managed to pick up the pace again but it wasn’t long before I was forced to end my race early. The positives are that I raced well, the car felt more consistent than in testing and I was keeping up with strong competitors and overtaking cars, which is all very encouraging.

“One of the key aspects of motor racing is precision, especially during qualifying on the 2012 Pirelli tyres. I want to work on ensuring I always qualify well and if I can continue to get good starts I am confident I can fight to finish in the points.”

Pleasing qualifying for Caterham Racing

Giedo van der Garde

Caterham Racing enjoyed a pleasing qualifying session ahead of the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, as Giedo van der Garde finished within two tenths of the Pole Position time in eighth.

For Caterham Racing team Manager, Phill Spencer, he is pleased with how the session went: “From the team’s perspective everything very went well today. We looked sharp on track and everyone worked hard to help us enjoy a decent start to our season. The race tomorrow looks like it is going to be very exciting – the top ten cars are covered by less than a second and attention to detail will be key to making sure we have a strong race.

“We have one car in the top ten and the other towards the back of the grid. Giedo showed how valuable his experience and outright pace will be this year in helping us achieve our targets. Rodolfo had a couple of issues on his quickest laps, but we have a good race strategy for both cars, so I am looking forward to getting out there and taking some points. A podium finish is definitely not out of the question.”

Van der Garde explains his qualifying session: “We stuck to our strategy today and went out and did two runs, using both tyre compounds. My first run didn’t go as well as we had hoped – we couldn’t find the performance on the hard compound so we came in, changed to the medium tyres and I did my fastest lap. To be honest it was not ideal. I made a small mistake which probably cost us two tenths, but overall it was good enough to finish in the top eight.

“Now we have some work ahead of us to make sure we have the right setup for tomorrow’s race. I am confident the team will give me a good race car and from eighth on the grid the aim is to work our way up and hopefully finish on the podium.”

Team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez finished the session outside the top twenty after a qualifying session which saw both of his flying laps hampered by traffic. He wound up twenty-third fastest, having set a 1m46.962.

He feels that he can push for the top ten tomorrow with a good tyre strategy: “The car was very competitive today but I had traffic on each of my fastest laps which is a real shame. Despite that I feel confident with the car and I know we have a good strategy to help us have a good race tomorrow and if I can manage my tyres well we can certainly try for a points finish.”

Humphrey Corbett, Caterham Racing Chief Engineer isn’t concerned with the result in qualifying due to the closeness of the times: “The times today were incredibly close, so although we were hoping to be further up the field, with Giedo just over a tenth off the quickest time in P8 I am not overly concerned about where we ended up. He did not get a perfect lap but the pace was there so come tomorrow I am confident he can work his way through to the front of the field and have a strong race. During the recent tests we saw we have good pace over the long runs and I am happy with the race strategy we have been working on. We are still learning about the new tyres – there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two compounds here, but both Giedo and Rodolfo seem happy with their cars and we know what to do to give us the sort of race we want to see tomorrow.

“Another very pleasing observation from today is to see just how well the whole team is working. The engineers are doing a very good job and the mechanics are working hard in the testing conditions. Both cars ran faultlessly today so I am very happy with our overall performance and I am looking forward to carrying that through to the race tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”

Three drivers for Racing Engineering at Jerez test.

Racing Engineering has confirmed the identity of the drivers who will test for them in the forthcoming GP2 test at Jerez, Spain. The two day test marks the first action for the field since the season finale at Monza two weeks ago.

The test, being held over the 28/29 September will provide all of the teams a chance to test some new, up and coming drivers as they look ahead to the 2012 campaign.

The 4.428km Circuito de Jerez is located near the Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera is South-western Spain and it marks the home circuit for Racing Engineering, as they are based in Sanlucar de Barrameda. Jerez is the former host of both the Spanish Grand Prix as well as the European Grand Prix and it has become a popular test venue during the winter months.

Three different drivers will test for the team over the two days: the opening day will see Fabio Leimer and Rodolfo Gonzalez in the car while the second day will see Gonzalez replaced by Rupert Svendsen-Cook.

Leimer has previous experience of GP2, having raced for Rapax this season – he secured a podium at Monza behind Christian Vietoris – he came up the ranks via Formula BMW, Formula Renault and International Formula Master before making his GP2 debut in the 2009/2010 GP2 Asia series.

The twenty one year old Swiss driver secured his maiden GP2 victory at Barcelona during the 2010 Sprint race and he repeated the feat in 2011. Between those victories, he finished fifth in the 2010/2011 GP2 Asia series.

Gonzalez also has prior GP2 experience. The twenty five year old Venezuelan raced for Ocean Racing Technology in 2011. Prior to making his GP2 debut during the third round of the 2008/2009 GP2 Asia Series, Gonzalez started off in Formula Renault before competing in both the British and European Formula 3 series.

He has yet to secure a top three finish during his two seasons in the series but he has proved that he has the potential to run at the front.

The third driver, Svendsen-Cook is currently competing in British Formula 3, having made his debut in 2010. His run out at Jerez will mark the twenty one year olds first experience of the GP2 series.

Svendsen-Cook, who is of Norwegian heritage started off in karts before switching to Formula BMW. He moved into British F3 for 2010, and in his first season secured a victory and four other podium finishes. He currently sits sixth in the 2011 Drivers’ Championship with two race weekends to go.

The 2011 GP2 Series saw Racing Engineering finish third overall in the Teams’ Championship and they are looking forward to giving Leimer, Gonzalez and Svendsen-Cook their opportunity in their race winning car.

Richelmi Joins Trident Racing for GP2 Finale.

After his accident last time out at Spa-Francorchamps, it was confirmed that Stefano Coletti would miss the final GP2 Series event of the 2011 season, at Monza over the 9/10/11 September.

His team, Trident Racing, have confirmed that fellow Monaco based driver Stephane Richelmi has joined the team for the Monza finale. Monza will mark the twenty-one year old driver’s GP2 debut.

Richelmi has spent the 2011 campaign racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for International Draco Racing, and he currently sits nineteenth overall on six points.

Trident Racing will profit by being able to run one of the brightest prospects in Europe currently in the GP2 Series, alongside regular driver Rodolfo Gonzalez.

Speaking about the announcement that he will make his GP2 debut with Trident at Monza, Richelmi said: “I’m taking this as a good chance to start my GP2 Series experience. I don’t expect an easy weekend because I’ll be on a new car for me and I didn’t turn a single lap on it. I’ll be at Monza with no stress or strain, and I’ll try to do the best I possibly can. I hope to be helped by my experience at the racetrack, which is the last low-downforce one left. In this kind of configuration, the car should not be really different than the one I drove on the same circuit in the World Series, but it’ll be the clock to confirm that. The chance given me by Trident Racing is great to put myself at test, and after this weekend I’ll gather some valuable feedback I’ll be able to take advantage of while planning my 2012 program”

The GP2 Season finale gets underway with practice at 11.55 on Friday, with qualifying taking place at 15.40. The first race of the Monza weekend and the penultimate race of the season takes place Saturday afternoon while the Sprint race, the final race of the year will be run Sunday morning.

Gonzalez Finishes GP2 Sprint Race as Coletti Recovers at Home.

Rodolfo Gonzalez during the GP2 Sprint Race.

Rodolfo Gonzalez brought the curtain down on a trying Spa-Francorchamps visit for the Trident Racing team by bringing the sole car home after Stefano Coletti was ruled out of action after his serious accident during the feature race.

Having been kept under observation overnight in Liege, Coletti went back to Monte Carlo by private flight, which was kindly offered by Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa. Once he was back in the principality, he was admitted with his personal doctor, Giancarlo Raffermi, to the Institute of Sports Medicine.

Further checks were due to be completed on Coletti yesterday, which were to confirm the diagnosis made in Liege, which confirmed that Coletti had a compound fracture of his third and fourth thoracic vertebrae.

Coletti will be resting for at least one complete week, after which more details about the recovery period will become available. It is estimated that Coletti will be out of the cockpit for four to five weeks.

Gonzalez went into the sprint race at Spa as the sole representative of Italian outfit Trident Racing, who had suffered a gearbox issue during the race but managed to bring the car home seventeenth overall.

Gonzalez said after the sprint race: “First thing of all, I want to say good luck to Stefano. I know how strong he is, and I’m sure he’ll be back at the top of his game really soon. Regarding yesterday’s race, I believe it were basically two things that prevented me from scoring a positive result. First, the starting spot which wasn’t favourable at all, and then a faulty gearbox sensor that kept delaying every shift by almost one second. Apart from that, the car was running great and I would have been able to have my say at the top. Now I’m fully-focused on Monza. It’s one of my favourite racetracks, and also really different from any other. If we can reach high top speeds and still keep the car stable under braking, we’ll be battling for some rewarding spots.”

For the whole team, the loss of Coletti is a big loss but he will be replaced for the final race weekend of the season, at Monza over the 9/10/11 September. The driver selected to replace Coletti will be announced in the coming days.

Picture Credit: Glenn Dunbar/GP2 Media Service

Coletti Injury Overshadows Tough Spa Feature Race.

Stefano Coletti in the dry at Spa before his accident.

Spa-Francorchamps and the GP2 Series Feature race provided a tense day for Trident Racing. During the first race of the eighth round of 2011, Stefano Coletti was involved in a serious accident which left him hospitalised.

On lap sixteen of the feature race, Coletti was involved in a hard but unavoidable accident. Having made his way up the field from the back of the grid to almost be in the top ten, he was running behind the Carlin car of Mikhail Aleshin while the Safety car was out on track.

Without warning, the engine in the Russian driver’s car went into “Safety Mode” – which instantly slowed him down. The front wheel of Coletti hit Aleshin’s back wheel and this started off a chain effect which saw Coletti come down on the track heavily before hitting the barrier.

Immediately, the Italian-Monegasque driver complained of back pains. He was then checked over at the circuit’s medical centre before being airlifted to Liege, where he was then admitted to hospital.

The scans showed that Coletti had suffered a compound fracture of this third and fourth thoracic vertebrae.

This incident put the race into a background matter and it was made even worse when team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez saw him race end prematurely on lap nineteen.

Trident Racing team wish Coletti a quick and speedy recovery from his injuries and look forward to him being back on track with a helmet on.

Picture Credit: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service

Trident Tested for Coletti and Gonzalez in Soggy Spa Qualifying.

Rodolfo Gonzalez in a wet qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

The GP2 Series got back on track after its traditional summer break for the final two rounds of the 2011 season, at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. The trip to Belgium and the Ardennes Forest is the penultimate round of the season.

Friday saw the opening day of activity seriously reduced as the weather affected all the teams’ plans – unpredictable weather over the circuit is nothing unusual and something the teams’ are prepared for.

Free Practice saw the field take to the track on slick tyres before swapping over to wets before the qualifying session, which was a completely wet shod affair.

Trident Racing saw their drivers, Hungarian winner Stefano Coletti and Rodolfo Gonzalez struggle with the conditions. Gonzalez ended the session as the best of the Trident racers, finishing the session nineteenth overall, on a 2m22.655s.

Gonzalez said after the session: “My qualifying session has been conditioned by the front tires’ wear. When I exited the pit-stops I felt I got a great grip with the car, and I thought that our set-up choices were proving really effective. At that point though, right after my flying lap, my front tires got worn badly. When I put the second set on, the same thing happened and, with today’s conditions, pushing for more than one lap was needed to improve our laptimes progressively”

Team-mate Coletti, who recovered from twenty first to secure the honours in Hungary will line up twenty third in today’s Feature race – having finished qualifying with the twenty fifth time, penalties since have promoted him up the order by two positions. His fastest lap time was a 2m24.272s.

Coletti said about qualifying: “Things didn’t go badly with my first new set of tires. I thought I could have easily aimed at a top-10 position. Then after being back to the pits for my second set, everything went wrong. In the closing stages the rain became less intense, and everybody started to lower their laptimes. I prepared for my last flying laps but a car got stuck in the last sector, and I had to lift the throttle to respect the yellow flags. It’s a pity because today’s result did not reflect our true potential”

Picture Credit: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service

Uneventful German Qualifying for Trident Racing in Nurburgring.

Rodolfo Gonzalez lines up twentieth for the German GP2 Feature Race.

Trident Racing started off a busy eight days with practice and qualifying ahead of the sixth round of the 2011 GP2 Series at Nurburgring in the Eifel Mountains, Germany.

The circuit sits in the shadows of its fearsome big brother, the Nurburgring Nordschleife and the visit to German circuit marks the start of four races in eight days as the series heads to Hungary and the Hungaroring next weekend.

Qualifying for the German feature race was an uneventful session with no red flag interruptions during the half hour session.

Trident Racing saw their drivers, Stefano Coletti and Rodolfo Gonzalez, finish qualifying down in sixteenth and twentieth positions ahead of tomorrow’s thirty four lap feature race, which will start at 15.40 CET. The twenty four lap Sprint race gets underway at 10:30 on Sunday.

Stefano Coletti said after qualifying: “During my qualifying stints I suffered from an irregular car handling. With the first set of new tires I was suffering from an heavy understeer. Then with the second set it changed completely, and we moved to oversteer. It’s a pity because we did really good in managing traffic situations out there, and I got several clean laps. I hope to fight back on tomorrow’s race 1, as we’ll face some variable weather conditions that I hope will help us in our comeback”

Rodolfo Gonzalez added: “If we look at the laptimes we clocked today we can clearly see that our gap to the top-10 isn’t too much, but we suffered from a difference of performance between the front and rear tires. We have to investigate the reason, because I think I couldn’t have done more today”.

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Sweet and Sour Weekend for Trident Racing at Silverstone.

Rodolfo Gonzalez at Silverstone

Trident Racing had a weekend of highs and lows during the fifth round of the 2011 GP2 Series at Silverstone.

The opening race of the weekend saw Stefano Coletti start down the grid in twenty first position but worked his way up the field to seventh at the line, thanks in part to the strategy which saw Coletti pit earlier than most to make the switch to slicks – the race had been started behind the Safety Car due to the weather conditions.

This paid off as he fought his way up as high as sixth position before spinning in traffic which dropped him to seventh. This was enough for two Championship Points and a front row start for the Sprint race.

Coletti said on his feature race performance: “In the first few laps with ‘rain’ tires I managed to recover from 21stplace to 15th. Then we decided to go for an early pit for slicks and it proved like a perfect strategy. I took full advantage of having a clear racetrack in front when the circuit was drying-up. When I was in 6th I tried to attack Dani Clos who was in front of me, but we touched and I ended up spinning. Luckily, the car didn’t suffer from damages, and I scored a valuable 7th-place finish that will definitely boost my chances for a good spot tomorrow.”

Team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez had a tough race and eventually finished nineteenth – the decision of a late tyre change penalising him a number of positions.

Gonzalez said after the opening race: “The first part of the race has been good for me. I almost caught Stefano and my ace was good. Then the strategy penalized me, as a late tire change make me lose position and forced me to settle for one of the last spots. It’s a real pity, as I hoped for a much better-ending race.”

Stefano Coletti at Silverstone for Trident Racing.

The sprint race at Silverstone didn’t go according to plan for the team – Coletti stalled it on the grid and dropped to the back of the field, and despite being the fastest driver on the track, was unable to make his way up the field and thus finished twenty-second.

Coletti reflects on his Silverstone Sprint race disappointment: “What can I say. I firmly believe that there wouldn’t have been chances for everybody else. After the issue at the start, our lap sequence left no doubts, as we were constantly the fastest with almost half a second between me and everybody else. That’s just a proof of how we were performing. It’s a pity, an average start would have been enough, and even losing some spots wouldn’t have prevented me from cruising to win”

Gonzalez started nineteenth after the feature race and showed some encouraging speed as he worked his way up the field. He was forced to slow after a while and took the flag in thirteenth.

Reflecting on the sprint race, Gonzalez commented: “The start of the race has been really good for me. I lapped on some really good times and my pace proved really consistent. Then we suffered from a technical issue and lost speed. I couldn’t do anything to defend myself, and of course I couldn’t manage to improve my position.”

Picture Credits: GP2 Series Media Service