GP2

GASLY LIGHTS UP ABU DHABI QUALIFYING

Pierre Gasly repeated his storming free practice performance by dominating this evening’s qualifying session in Abu Dhabi, denying 2015 champion Stoffel Vandoorne a final pole position for the season as the pair topped the timesheets ahead of Mitch Evans.
The Red Bull test driver annexed the top spot with a lap of 1:47.769, although Vandoorne closed to within a tenth in a frenetic session which saw the top four drivers bring home times under the McLaren tester’s 2014 pole as the weekend hangs onto the cooler than usual temperatures.
The session started with the usual jockeying for position when the lights went green, but Gasly ignored them all and set the pace right from the start: Vandoorne, Evans and Alexander Rossi all briefly put themselves on top but the Frenchman broke their hearts with a 48.0 lap at the seven minute mark, to take the lead back to the pits, and then went faster again when he returned to the track to drive the point home.
His rivals were still determined to put up a challenge: teammate Alex Lynn jumped Vandoorne for P2 on his first flyer on his second set, but the Belgian stole it back a minute later to at least start from the front row. The pair (and Gasly) returned to the pits with a minute remaining: Rossi tried to push forward but made a small mistake in sector 1 to put paid to his efforts, while Evans’ last ditch attempt paid off with P3 for tomorrow.
Lynn leads the rest of the field, ahead of Raffaele Marciello, Rio Haryanto (who will be delighted to outqualify his rival Sergey Sirotkin for third in championship), Rossi, Jordan King, Nobuharu Matsushita and Artem Markelov, who all qualified within a second of pole and will be looking for more rewards in tomorrow’s feature race.

GP3

Ocon pips Ceccon to pole in Yas Marina

ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Ocon made an important step in his fight for this season’s title: The Frenchman came into the final round of the year with a two point deficit; but following an epic qualifying session, Ocon edged out Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon by just 0.016s. Pole was even more meaningful for the Mercedes junior as the four points pocketed means he re-takes the lead in the standings by two points. Marvin Kirchhöfer finished third with title contender Luca Ghiotto in fourth.
Ocon set the early pace in the session with Ceccon in P2. Ghiotto was on a mission and was first to lap in the 1m55’s, lapping four tenths rival than his main rival. The Trident ace tried to improve on his next run, but he was 0.089s off his best time after running slightly wide.
At the midway point, everyone returned to the pitlane for new Pirelli tyres. On their second run, it was Ceccon who took provisional pole, with Carlin’s Antonio Fuoco demoting Ocon to fourth. The Frenchman retaliated but could only manage P3 at that point, before his teammate Kirchhöfer shot into second – a mere 0.042s off Ceccon.
As the clock ticked down, Ghiotto was doing all he could to reclaim back P1: He was fastest in sector two but again lost time in the final sector of the track. With several minutes remaining, Ocon lit the timing screen in purple as he was quickest in sector one. The ART Grand Prix rookie clocked the best lap of the session to take pole position and mark his claim in a titanic tussle for this year’s title.

Ghiotto was one of the last to cross the line to take the chequered flag: The Italian’s lap wasn’t enough to challenge Ocon with the Trident star having to start from the second row tomorrow. At the flag, Ocon held on to take his third consecutive pole position, ahead of Ceccon who clocked his personal best qualifying of the campaign. Kirchhöfer joins Ghiotto on the second row ahead of Jimmy Eriksson, Emil Bernstorff, Fuoco, Alex Palou, Matthew Parry and Artur Janosz.

The top five drivers were separated by just 0.188s with the top 16 drivers covered by less than one second, underlining the fierce competition amongst the pack of talented youngsters…
Race 1 takes place tomorrow at 12:25 local time (GMT+4). With two races to go, every lap will count in the duel between Ocon and Ghiotto for the coveted GP3 title! A Champion could be crowned tomorrow…don’t miss it!

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY

KHALID AL QASSIMI WINS DUBAI RALLY

SHK-KHALID-AL-QASSIMI-0922

 

  • Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson win Dubaï International Rally in a DS 3 RRC.
  • The Abu Dhabi driver won the home event with a lead of 57 seconds over second place finisher.
  • Mohammed Al Mutawaa wins the 2WD class ahead of teammates Belhelei and Bintouq.

 

After achieving a comfortable lead on day one, Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi and Co-driver Chris Patterson decided to keep a steady pace and maintain the lead until the chequered flag at the end of the Dubai International Rally.

Al Qassimi’s strategy on the final day payed off and he won the home event with a lead of 57 sec. over 2nd place finisher AbdulAziz Al Kuwari while 3rd place went to Khalid Al Suwaidi.

“My initial strategy was to push hard till the end but after achieving a comfortable lead on day one we changed our strategy from full attack to balanced pace to defend our lead.” Al Qassimi said.

“On Day 2, we used hard tires that have low grip but longer durability which paid off because the some of the stages were very rough particularly SS8. Everything went well and I’m really happy to win my home Rally.”

In the 2WD class, the Abu Dhabi Racing junior drivers finished inside the top 10. Mohamed Al Mutawaa/Stephen McAuley won the event posting some impressive times, some even faster than the group N cars! The 2nd place was constantly changing between Saeed Bintowq/Allan Harryman and Mansour Belhelei/Khalid Al Kendi. Eventually, it was Belhelei who had the final word taking P2 and his teammate Bintouq taking P3.

 

FORMULA 1

SAHARA FORCE INDIA’ ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, toasts the team’s most successful season ahead of the final race and a special milestone for the team.
 
VJM: “Heading to Abu Dhabi with fifth place in the championship already secured feels pretty good. It means we can approach the last weekend of the season free from pressure and with nothing to lose. Our focus is simply on enjoying the race and ending the season in style. Abu Dhabi will be a special race for us as it marks the 150th of our history as Force India, and we will aim to celebrate it with a strong performance on the track.
“All season I’ve been saying how proud I am of my team – particularly our development curve in the second half of the season. With 81 points from the last eight races we’ve enjoyed our best ever strike rate and we have been competitive at every race. With stable regulations for 2016, there is every reason to believe we can carry this form through the winter and into the new season. There is plenty to be excited about and a lot of positive energy in the team.
“This weekend’s race is simply another chance to demonstrate how far we have come. Our aim will be to qualify in the top ten and add a final helping of points to our tally.”
 
 
Sergio on Abu Dhabi
Sergio Perez savours his best ever season and looks ahead to the final race of the year.
 
Sergio: “The 2015 season has gone by so quickly, but I have lots of great memories and I’m very proud of what we have achieved. I think it’s probably been my best season in Formula One in terms of results and also the most enjoyable. We have grown a lot during the course of the year and we have had some special days, with a highlight being my podium in Russia and my home race in Mexico.
“I think Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to end the season, especially with a race under the lights. The whole venue is impressive and the track is quite a challenge from a set-up point of view. You need a car that works through the fast corners in the first sector, as well as through the slow final sector, which feels more like a twisty street circuit.
“I think we have the potential for a big result in Abu Dhabi. Things didn’t work out for me in Brazil so I’m determined to get back in the points this weekend and finish this great season on a positive note.”
 
Nico on Abu Dhabi
Nico Hülkenberg hopes to end the season with another strong performance in Abu Dhabi.
 
Nico: “The final race of the season is always important because you want to finish the season well and carry the momentum into the winter months. We have already secured fifth in the championship but I want to make sure I end the season in the top ten of the drivers’ championship so there is still a lot to play for.
“Abu Dhabi is a fun place for the season finale: the venue is great and the twilight racing helps create a special atmosphere. As a track, it’s not easy to get a good lap as the layout is very technical, especially in the final sector. It’s quite easy to come into a corner too hot and make a mistake, and finding a good flow is a big challenge.
“Brazil was a very enjoyable weekend for me: the car felt great and we maximised every session to come away with a well-deserved result. I think we can realistically aim for a similar performance this weekend. It’s been a great year for everyone in the team and we deserve to finish on a high.

GP2

EVANS SPRINTS TO SAKHIR WIN

Mitch Evans took his second win of the 2015 season in today’s sprint race at Bahrain International Circuit. From P6 on the grid, the RUSSIAN TIME ace was able to move up to the front of the field thanks to a mature drive. He crossed the finish line ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Alex Lynn.
When the lights went off, Lynn made a perfect start from reverse pole to lead the rest of the pack into Turn 1. Nobuharu Matsushita had a strong getaway from P7 on the grid and was able to move up to second, but he made light contact with Rio Haryanto into the first corner which sent the Japanese driver into a spin and an early retirement. Haryanto couldn’t make the turn and went wide along with Pierre Gasly. Lynn was then leading from Vandoorne (who also made a lightning start from P8) and Evans.
There was drama further down the pack as Oliver Rowland hit the back of Rene Binder’s car and got airborne. The safety car was deployed. At the re-start, Lynn remained in control and tried to build a gap whilst Evans closed in on Vandoorne and eventually passed him on lap 7. The Kiwi’s pace enabled him to reduce the gap to Lynn quickly, and after a couple of attempts, he found a way past the Briton into Turn 1 on lap 13. The DAMS driver however fought back and reclaimed his position. A lap later, Evans tried again and this time made it stick.
Once into the lead, the Russian Time ace pulled away easily. Vandoorne who had been careful on his tyres until then, put his head down and overtook Lynn for P2. Evans was 3.2s away and he maintained a comfortable gap to Vandoorne until the chequered flag: when it dropped he enjoyed a well-deserved second win this season, 1.8s ahead of Vandoorne. Lynn had to settle for third. Sergey Sirotkin finished fourth ahead of Raffaele Marciello, Jordan King, Gasly and Artem Markelov.
Heading to the final round of the season next week at Yas Marina Circuit, Vandoorne has extended his lead further with 316.5 points whilst Alexander Rossi leaves Bahrain without having added a single point to his tally of 169.5. Sirotkin has moved up to third in the standings on 139 points ahead of Rio Haryanto on 132. Evans is now fifth in the standings on 120 points.

GP3

KIRCHHÖFER BLAZES TO SUPERB WIN IN SAKHIR

The German driver was hungry for success after a disappointing previous round: The ART Grand Prix ace started from P5 on the grid and made a stunning getaway to pass his title rivals into Turn 1. Kirchhöfer held on under severe pressure to celebrate his fourth win of the year. His success confirmed ART Grand Prix as 2015 GP3 Team Champions for the fifth time since the Series’ inception. Arden International’s Emil Bernstorff passed Series leader Esteban Ocon on the final lap for second position, with the Frenchman coming home in third. Trident’s Luca Ghiotto was fourth.
The 24 drivers lined up on the grid in very hot conditions for the first ever GP3 race around the Bahrain International Circuit for Round 8 of the season. Pole-sitter was Mercedes backed Ocon with his main title contender Ghiotto joining him on the front row. Disaster struck for Campos Racing’s Alex Palou who was due to start from P4: The unlucky Spaniard was unable to start the race as he suffered technical gremlins and retired in the pitlane.
When the lights went out, Ocon was quick to cover off the attack from Ghiotto but it was Kirchhöfer from the third row who flew past the pair of them to sneak into the lead heading into Turn One. Ghiotto was immediately onto the rear of Ocon, whilst the rest of the field were busy battling in a frenetic start to the race.

Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon was embroiled in a fight with Koiranen GP’s Jimmy Eriksson for fifth place, whilst Trident’s Artur Janosz and Carlin’s Jann Mardenborough were locked into a titanic duel for P7. On lap 4, Kirchhöfer held a 1s lead, with 1.3s covering the top three.

Alfonso Celis. Jr who has recently been announced as Sahara Force India’s F1 Development driver was busy carving his way through the field and he passed Mardenborough for eighth. Eriksson was also on the move as he got the better of Ceccon for fifth.
Celis Jr’s next target was Ceccon and he got the job done to move into sixth on lap 14. Mardenborough close in pursuit tried to replicate the Mexican’s manoeuvre but he ended up running wide.
With five laps remaining, Bernstorff who had been settled in fourth began his charge and his first victim was Ghiotto. He passed the Trident star going into Turn 1 on lap 17 and set after Ocon. With two laps remaining, the top three was covered by just one second in a mouth-watering fight.
Bernstorff was on a mission as he raced side by side with Ocon. The two briefly made light contact and the Arden star jumped into second after some bold moves on the final lap. At the chequered flag, Kirchhöfer was triumphant ahead of an overjoyed Bernstorff with ART Grand Prix teammate Ocon in third. Ghiotto posted the fastest lap of the race in fourth, ahead of Eriksson, Janosz, Mardenborough, Celis. Jr, Antonio Fuoco and Ralph Boschung.
Ocon now holds a three point lead over Ghiotto in the Drivers’ Standings, whilst Kirchhöfer has moved back into third place, five points clear of Bernstorff. ART Grand Prix wrapped up their fifth team’s title out of six attempts, with Trident and Arden International in second and third with all to play for.
Race 2 will commence at 09.00 am local time tomorrow (GMT+3) with Celis. Jr starting from reverse pole.

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