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Racing Engineering makes best of 'difficult' final test
9 March 2013
The poor weather for two of the three days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya caused mixed feelings in the Racing Engineering camp, with the technical staff frustrated by the lack of clear running but lead driver Fabio Leimer enjoying the opportunity to get some proper wet weather practice ahead of the start of the 2013 season.
"Generally this test was very useful as we had two days in the wet and in the end one day with a dry track, because of this we were able to work on our dry and wet set up," explained Leimer. "We gathered a lot of information during these three days and we have to analyse it now, but I am quite confident about the season opener in Malaysia."
It will be the 23-year-old Swiss driver's fourth season in GP2 and his second consecutive year with the Racing Engineering team, giving him a head-start in preparations for the first race weekend at the Sepang International Circuit in two weeks time over his new team mate Julian Leal.
While Leal has himself competed in two full GP2 seasons, this will be his first campaign with the Spanish squad, and understandably he could have done with a more straightforward final pre-season testing opportunity to get to grips with his new team and new car for 2013.
"With restricted running time in the dry we were not able to try everything we wanted," the Colombian admitted. "But my engineer understands me and my driving style really well now, so I think we will be do a good job from the first race on."
The 22-year-old débuted in the feeder series with Rapax in 2011 and competed last year with the Italian Trident Racing team. He's hoping to continue the distinct upturn in form apparent in his 2012 results toward the end of the season, which saw him finish in the points three times in six outings.
Leal started off the week at the 2.892-mile, 16-turn Circuit de Catalunya in good form despite the rain, placing in fifth position on the timesheets for Tuesday morning's session just behind his team mate. After that, however, it proved something more of a hard slog during the week - albeit a productive one on the whole, he insisted.
"We had a lot of rain during the first two days here in Barcelona and were able to test a lot of things on the car," Leal explained. "We did a good job and found a fast car for the rain, where we finished almost all the sessions in the top ten.
"We suffered a bit more in the dry, but continually improved and made several steps forward," he added. His best time of the week was set on the final afternoon session on Thursday when he posted a lap of 1:30.601s on the now completely dry conditions; by comparison, Leimer's best time in that same session was 1:29.862s.
While the drivers were both looking on the bright side of the rain-interrupted test session, the team was having a tougher time remaining quite so upbeat about the lost track time at Barcelona.
"We had a difficult three day test here at Barcelona with the weather greatly affecting out testing program, reducing the time to test different solutions," admitted Thomas Couyotopoulo, the sporting director of Racing Engineering.
"The tyres were once more the centre of attention during the test, and we discovered some quite interesting things," Couyotopoulo added. "We performed well with both compounds and will now finish the preparations for the first race in Sepang."
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