It’s been a long time coming. After a hit and miss season in 2012, Fabio Leimer finally snatched a win for Racing Engineering in this morning’s feature race at Sepang International Circuit. The Swiss came out on top after race long pressure from poleman Stefano Coletti.
As soon as the lights went out, Leimer made a blazing start from P4 on the grid and came to Coletti’s side on the outside of Turn 1, but the Monegasque driver retained the lead from the Swiss. Behind the battling pair, James Calado muscled his way past Felipe Nasr to take third, but the Brit ran a bit too wide shortly after, which allowed Mitch Evans who had just disposed of Nasr to take advantage of Calado’s mistake.
At the front, Leimer was on the hunt and worked hard to keep as small a gap to Coletti as possible, both men having opted to start the race on soft tyres. Further down the pack, Calado reclaimed third as Evans started to struggle to keep the pace with Nasr sneaking through as well. The New Zealander went backwards even further until he pitted for a set of hard tyres on lap 6.
Feeling the pressure from Leimer and struggling on his tyres, Coletti also pitted on lap 6 handing the lead to the Swiss who immediately set a string of fast laps. Leimer came into the pits on lap 11 together with Calado, but he rejoined on track behind Coletti whilst Sam Bird and Jolyon Palmer lead proceedings, the latter having started from P22 on the grid on hard tyres. The Carlin driver was promoted to leader on lap 12 after Bird was handed a drive through for ignoring a yellow flag. Palmer remained at the front until he pitted for softs nine laps later.
All eyes were glued on the on-going battle between Coletti and Leimer who were back in the lead. The Monegasque driver who had pitted earlier than his rival started to suffer from higher tyre degradation. Leimer was quickly back onto Coletti’s rear who was locking up his wheels more and more. Eventually, Leimer found a way past around the inside of turn 1 with four laps to go. He immediately picked up the pace and tried to pull away. Calado added to Coletti’s misery by overtaking him for P2.
At the chequered flag, Leimer threw his fist in the air and enjoyed his first win since Barcelona sprint race in 2011. Behind Calado and Coletti, Nasr finished fourth ahead of Julian Leal, Palmer, Bird, Stéphane Richelmi (who will start tomorrow on reverse pole), Simon Trummer and Evans.
Kuala Lumpur– Feature race
|1.||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering|
|2.||James Calado||ART Grand Prix|
|5.||Julian Leal||Racing Engineering|
|7.||Sam Bird||RUSSIAN TIME|
|10.||Mitch Evans||Arden International|
|11.||Rene Binder||Venezuela GP Lazarus|
|12.||Johnny Cecotto||Arden International|
|13.||Conor Daly||Hilmer Motorsport|
|14.||Tom Dillmann||RUSSIAN TIME|
|15.||Pal Varhaug||Hilmer Motorsport|
|16.||Kevin Giovesi||Venezuela GP Lazarus|
|17.||Kevin Ceccon||Trident Racing|
|18.||Jake Rosenzweig||Barwa Addax Team|
|19.||Sergio Canamasas||Caterham Racing|
|20.||Rio Haryanto||Barwa Addax Team|
|21.||Ma Qing Hua||Caterham Racing|
|Nathanaël Berthon||Trident Racing|
|Daniel Abt||ART Grand Prix|
|Daniel De Jong||MP Motorsport|
|Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||MP Motorsport|
Fastest Lap : Sam Bird (RUSSIAN TIME) – 1:48.777 on lap 16