During the Wednesday's test sessions and the free practice sessions on Thursday and Friday (P6 & P8), the Van Uitert/Van Der Helm/Maldonado squad faced real hot conditions - 40 degrees in the air and 55 degrees on track - around the Spanish circuit.
Tijmen Van Der Helm placed the car in P7 on the grid after the qualifying session on Saturday morning.
Under threatening weather conditions at 6 pm, the Venezuelan Manuel Maldonado had a fantastic start, winning two places, up to P5. He moved to P3 with the help of a different strategy and a great pace, as well as drive-through penalties that hit some of our competitors and a safety car period.
His entire stint went flawlessly, he then handed the car over to Tijmen after 40 laps.
Tijmen managed to pass the #22 United Motorsport Usa car right away on the track to get behind the leader but was passed back a few laps later. Then, for almost 12 laps, he was blocked by the #37 Cool Racing car, 2 laps down in the standings. Despite being notified several times by the race management, that car has cost us valuable time.
Like his team-mates before him, he performed well on track and returned to the pits to allow Job Van Uitert to finish the race. The Dutchman drove under sunset conditions after a quick pit-stop. Thanks to a shorter refueling, he gained time and overtook two cars, moving into the lead of the race, with 1 hour remaining. He took every risk necessary to open the gap behind him, because the final pitstop had to be longer than the others. The #65 Oreca returned to P4 after the last pitstop window. As usual, Job set among the fastest laps on track, with the podium within reach now. His efforts were cut short by a final Full Course Yellow.
Manuel Maldonado : "Overall, a bittersweet weekend. That P4 is a good result considering where we started the weekend. But regarding the race then, we deserved a bit better. The car was fast, and we did a great job on track. It just didn’t go as planned at the end. I am happy with how the team worked and with the good points we scored in the championship. That’s what really counts at the end as some of our competitors finished behind us today. Let see what the next races bring.
Sarah Abadie - Team Manager: " Pride and frustration are the two emotions that characterize our race. Despite a difficult week for both the team and the drivers, everyone fought back to shine during the race. Manuel's start was sensational, as he won two places. Tijmen also did a superb move before Job made a huge effort to catch up with the leaders. I am grateful to our drivers for their tireless efforts during the 4 hours of racing. The same for our engineers and mechanics who worked hard to extract more speed out of the car during the whole weekend. Despite all these efforts, we're leaving Aragon with a feeling of bitterness because the podium was reachable. The loss of time Tijmen spent behind a lapped-car, due to unfair play not being part of the official regulations, ruined what would have been a well-deserved reward."
Tijmen Van Der Helm : "The race went quite well. Before I jumped into the car, Manuel did a superb job. I put in all my efforts to pursue and obtain more positions. We faced problems on the track against some lapped drivers. The pace was good, we did well with the tires, so the pace was no less than everyone else in front of us. The traffic has been a little unfortunate for us. I am certain that we will do even better next time."
Job Van Uitert : "I am disappointed by this result at the end. Even if we struggled in terms of pace throughout the weekend, we were in the fight for the win, which was great. But we missed a little something to reach the podium at least. I can’t wait for Spa to see how it goes there."