Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs opened his 2013 points-scoring account with seventh and eighth places in the second round of the GP2 Series at the Sakhir circuit this weekend. Posting competitive lap times in both races, the Tonbridge racer led for ten of Saturday’s 32 laps and finished top rookie amid a fiercely competitive 26-car field.

Arriving at the Bahraini circuit for the first time on Friday, Quaife-Hobbs’ first task was exploring MP Motorsport’s 600bhp, four-litre V8 Mecachrome Dallara’s limits, while also learning the new track. Unable to find a good balance in practice, he nevertheless headed into qualifying later that day intent on improvement. A scintillating first sector on his flying lap indicated the form for a top five grid position, however a rare mistake later in the lap thwarted his efforts, nevertheless netting the eighth fastest time.

Opting for the harder compound tyres for Saturday’s opening race Quaife-Hobbs was immediately gifted the bonus of Marcus Ericsson stalling on the dummy grid, relegating him to a pit lane start, and allowing Quaife-Hobbs a slightly clearer getaway at the lights. A solid start allowed the BRDC Superstar to place sixth into turn one, although he dropped to seventh at the second corner.

The last of the hard tyre-shod drivers to stop for his compulsory tyre stop, Quaife-Hobbs moved into the lead on lap 12 before pitting for softer rubber, ten laps later. Rejoining the track, the 22 year-old enjoyed a frantic battle for eighth with Simon Trummer and Tom Dillmann, a position that earns pole on the reverse grid for Sunday’s sprint race, eventually finishing seventh at the flag.

Sunday’s race proved equally exciting for the reigning AutoGP World Series Champion. A front row start looked hopeful of providing a debut podium, and a great start allowed Quaife-Hobbs to slot in behind polesitter Dillmann off the line.

Moving to the outside at the entry to turn one Quaife-Hobbs had a tentative look at taking the lead, however he out-braked himself on the exit allowing Sam Bird and Stefano Coletti by. Dropping a further place on lap two, the series debutant thereafter drove a strong race to lead a fierce five-car battle for fifth despite struggling with worsening oversteer. As his tyre degradation also worsened in the latter stages of the race, he dropped three places to the flag, but managed to hold off a charging Fabio Leimer, winner of race one.

“It’s been a fairly positive weekend here in Bahrain, and I’m pretty happy to get two points-scoring finishes,” said Adrian. “Practice didn’t go as well as I’d have liked, however qualifying more than made up for that. I had a great start to my flying lap, but I made a small mistake which cost me a top four or five grid position.

“In the opening race we opted for a different strategy, starting on the harder tyres, so holding station was the best we could have hoped for. After the stop I managed to chase down Trummer and enjoyed a good battle with him and I felt we could have caught Sam (Bird) but the tyres went off.

“In race two, naturally we were hoping for a lot. I made a good start, and me and Dillmann managed to pull away into the first corner. I tried to take the lead around the outside, but I out-braked myself and lost a few places. I started to struggle with oversteer, which got worse and worse as the race went on, and for the last eight laps I had virtually no grip.

“When James (Calado) got past me, I lost momentum which allowed the other two past, however I’m pleased to have kept Leimer behind me. I think we’ve made a massive leap forward and I think we’ve shown we have the pace to run at the front in qualifying and in the races. These are good results to build on for the coming races and I’m very much looking forward to the next rounds, where I hope we can continue our learning curve.”

The GP2 Series now heads into its European leg, with the next round in three weeks time, over the weekend of 11 & 12 May in Barcelona.

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