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The bright lights and glamour of Singapore will this weekend host the finale of the 2012 GP2 Series – a season which has so far seen Carlin take three consecutive pole positions and a sensational win from pole, for Max Chilton who is still in with a fight for third in the championship standings. This will be the first time that GP2 has visited the Marina Bay complex however for Carlin man Rio Haryanto it will seem like a familiar hunting ground following a podium position at the track in 2009 while competing in the Formula BMW Asia Pacific Championship.

The GP2 Series finale in Singapore this weekend will be the first time the championship has raced as the support to the Formula One night race. The Singapore street track will be a new challenge for the majority of the drivers in the GP2 field. Haryanto, an exception, has previously raced the Singapore circuit in 2009 where he secured second position before going on to win the Formula BMW championship that year.

For Carlin Singapore signals the end of what has been a successful year – only their second in the championship. With three pole positions and a win to date the team currently lie sixth in the team standings with two races left to run. Chilton’s season in the championship has also been his best to date with his dominant pole position and win in Hungary a highlight which now sees him sitting fifth in the Drivers’ Championship. The young Brit is aiming for another successful weekend in Asia as the battle for third in the drivers’ championship reaches its climax.

The tight Marina Bay circuit features 25 demanding corners during the 5.073 km lap meaning free practice on Friday morning will be vital for the entire field as they look to learn the circuit as quickly as possible. Full concentration is demanded from all the drivers as the close barriers and high kerbs keep them alert during both races this weekend.

Looking ahead to racing around the circuit for the first time Max Chilton said, ‘I’m really looking forward to this weekend and very excited about driving the Singapore circuit. The whole city and atmosphere here is so amazing and so is the track from what I’ve seen so far. I think we have a good chance here if we continue the momentum from the past few races so I can’t wait until Friday afternoon to try it out!’

Having already competed here in the past team mate Rio Haryanto added, ‘I raced here with the Formula BMW 2009 taking a podium in a year where I went on to secure the championship. It’s a very technical track and requires a lot of concentration to get every corner right. The GP2 car is going to feel completely different around here but I’m hoping that my experience of the track will give me an advantage as we head into Friday’s running.’

Looking ahead to the next round of the GP2 Series the Marussia Carlin team will take on the final European round before the season finale in Singapore later this month. After a frustrating weekend which started off with Rio Haryanto taking a dominant pole position in Spa, neither races went to plan for either him or Max Chilton. Putting the frustrations of Belgium behind them, both Chilton and Haryanto are aiming to convert the team’s speed into some serious points this weekend. Monza will mark the penultimate round of the GP2 Series in a year which has been Carlin’s most successful championship season to date.

Having raced at Monza on a number of occasions in the past both Chilton and Haryanto have had success at the Italian circuit over the years. Chilton took a great pole position in 2008 during the British Formula Three Championship while Haryanto claimed two podiums and a fastest lap at the track last year in the GP3 Series.

Looking ahead to the penultimate round and currently lying sixth in the championship, Chilton said, ‘I’m really looking forward to Monza, it’s one of the great circuits that every driver wants to win at, as well as being the fastest track of the year. The weather, the park, the crowds all make it a really enjoyable event. We had a few issues in Spa, but I think we have the potential to be strong again in Monza.’

Team mate Haryanto added ‘I’m really looking forward to Monza this weekend. I have good memories from the past two years competing here with the GP3 Series and taking three podiums from four races. I think we’ve made a lot of progress these past couple of races and I’m confident of getting points again this weekend and hopefully a podium position.’

Track action will commence with practice on Friday at 12.00 local time, followed by qualifying at 16.00. Saturday’s Feature race will take place at 15.40 on Saturday while Sunday’s Sprint Race will bring the season’s European action to a close at 10.35.

Marussia Carlin GP2 drivers Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto faced opposite fortunes at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium today, in this morning’s GP2 Sprint race. Chilton’s race was effectively over by the first corner as the British racer was hit by another driver which saw him lose his front wing. Team mate Haryanto meanwhile made a great start and coped well with tyre wear to cross the line in seventh place and add further points to his tally.

It was another hectic first lap as this morning’s GP2 Sprint Race got underway at Spa. Both Marussia Carlin drivers initially made a good start, but Chilton was left in the middle of the track as the cars entered La Source. The Carlin man soon saw his race ruined by Jonny Cecotto – who had been on the grass for the run up the start/finish straight to the first corner – piled into Chilton’s rear right wheel, putting the British racer into a spin which also saw him lose his front wing.

While Chilton was suffering misfortune, Haryanto had made good progress from his tenth place grid slot and was up to sixth. The GP2 rookie once again had Marcus Ericsson behind him in a replay of yesterday’s race, but this time the Carlin man was staying ahead.

Despite heavy damage Chilton managed to limp back to the pits, where the Carlin team were waiting with a new nose box and front wing, allowing Chilton to rejoin in 22nd place.

As Ericsson dropped back, Haryanto soon had Esteban Gutierrez to contend with. Despite defending hard Haryanto lost the position on lap five and dropped to seventh place.

Ericsson was back in Haryanto’s mirrors a few laps later however, passing Haryanto, but the Indonesian made up two places on lap 11 after contact between Julian Leal and Gutierrez in the fight for the podium. That put Haryanto in sixth place, while Chilton was 20th.

Once again tyre degradation became the issue for the majority of drivers in the final stages of this morning’s Sprint Race. Haryanto was one driver involved in several changes for position with Fabio Leimer passing him for sixth on lap 14. Despite a close challenge from Stefano Coletti, Haryanto held on though, and crossed the line in seventh place to take two further points.

Chilton meanwhile was the quickest car on track, and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 15, although the British racer crossed the line in 22nd, after being the innocent victim in the lap one accident.

Two events remain in the GP2 calendar, as the drivers enjoying back-to-back races with the penultimate round in Monza next weekend. Chilton remains in sixth place in the drivers’ standings despite this weekend’s disappointing results, while Haryanto is 13th.

It was a frustrating afternoon for the Marussia Carlin GP2 drivers at Spa-Francorchamps, as Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto took part in today’s Feature Race. Despite starting from pole and leading the field, a spin on cold tyres for GP2 rookie Haryanto left the Indonesian at the back of the field. The 19 year-old did well to fight back to tenth place, just ahead of team mate Chilton who was 12th.

Haryanto coped well with the pressure of his maiden GP2 pole, and after a steady getaway, did well to defend from a flying Esteban Gutierrez at the start to maintain the lead. As the race got underway Haryanto was leading from Marcus Ericsson who was close behind. However, the more experienced Ericsson passed him soon after, just before the safety car emerged following a heavy accident for Nigel Melker.

As the race was neutralised, Haryanto was second, while Chilton was 14th. The race for position then transferred to the pit lane, as the majority of the drivers dived into the pits to make their mandatory stop. A fantastic stop by the Carlin crew saw Haryanto beat Ericsson back out on track and effectively take back the race lead, but the young Indonesian spun on cold tyres at Les Combes soon after and dropped down the order.

Chilton meanwhile also had a good stop, but in avoidance of an unsafe release, was forced to sit in his pit box as several drivers passed and rejoined the track ahead of him in the busy pit lane.

As the marshals worked hard to repair the heavy damage done to the tyre wall following Melker’s accident, the race was red flagged and the drivers returned to the grid in their current order. The short delay soon turned into a lengthier one, as the restart was held off until the medical helicopter could return having taken Melker to hospital.

When the race was finally restarted it was behind the safety car, with Chilton in 14th and Haryanto 19th. A flurry of penalties for other drivers and several late pit stops saw Chilton and Haryanto climb back up the order and with seven laps to go Chilton was 11th while Haryanto was 14th.

Chilton made up one further place in lap 10 when he passed Guerin for tenth, while his team mate was also making progress with a move on Felipe Nasr for 12th the following lap.

A troublesome pit stop for Stefano Coletti saw Chilton and Haryanto climb to ninth and tenth on lap 22, but Haryanto, clearly frustrated with his earlier spin was keen to make amends and passed his team mate for ninth shortly after.

With just two laps to go the young Indonesian was on top form and closing in on eighth place and the race two reverse grid pole position. Despite pushing hard, Haryanto was passed by Nasr who had also overtaken Chilton, and at the chequered flag Haryanto took the final point in 10th while Chilton was 12th.

Reflecting on his race, Haryanto said, “Obviously it’s a bit disappointing. I had the lead at the start and the team did a great job in the pits, but I was on cold tyres and the car just surprised me and snapped away and there was nothing I could do. I’m frustrated, but it’s a mistake I won’t make again. Afterwards I had good pace and fought hard to get back in the points. Nasr managed to get past me right at the end; I tried to fight back on the long straight but I was hitting the limiter and couldn’t quite get the position back. I learnt a lot from today’s race.”

This weekend’s GP2 Sprint Race will take place at 10.35 local time.

Rio HaryantoRio Haryanto has taken the Marussia Carlin GP2 Team’s second consecutive pole position in a GP2 qualifying session, at a rain soaked Spa-Francorchamps circuit today. The GP2 rookie was the driver to beat throughout this afternoon’s 30 minute qualifying session, and was quickest from the outset. Team mate Max Chilton, who took pole last time out in Hungary qualified in 13th ahead of tomorrow’s Feature race.

Following torrential rain throughout Friday’s track sessions, conditions had deteriorated even further by the time the drivers took to the track for GP2 qualifying this afternoon. After a short delay of 10 minutes, it was Haryanto who led the drivers onto the track, and the young Indonesian wasted no time in setting an early benchmark to go quickest of all in the first few minutes.

Few drivers managed to get close to the Carlin driver’s time, and with 10 minutes of the session gone, Haryanto was over six tenths of a second quicker than his nearest rival.

Haryanto lost the top spot only briefly, after the drivers emerged from the pits with new wet Pirelli tyres. A handful of drivers including James Calado and Marcus Ericsson briefly went quicker, but Haryanto was able to respond immediately to take back provisional pole.

As the session entered the final minutes, several drivers improved, including Chilton who jumped up to 13th. Haryanto continued to hold the top spot however, and despite the rain falling in the final seconds the Indonesian set his quickest sector two time and the quickest sector three overall on his final flying lap.

At the chequered flag, the 19 year-old remained unbeaten to take his maiden GP2 pole position, and Carlin’s second in as many race weekends. Haryanto also takes four valuable points to add to his 2012 tally.

A delighted Haryanto said, “I’m really pleased with the results today. We were quick from the beginning and I’m very pleased for the team; the car was very nice to drive and I could really feel the grip. I was trying to drive as smoothly as possible and not make any corrections or mistakes. I think we were in the right place at the right time with the second set of tyres. I felt the grip fall away on the first set and I think we stopped at the perfect time to set the quickest lap on the new tyres before the rain started to come again. For sure it’s not going to be easy tomorrow, but I will do my best and we will work hard to have a good strategy. We will see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully it will be wet again!”

The GP2 Feature Race will take place at 15.40 local time tomorrow.

Photo by Daniel Kalisz / GP2 Media Service.

Carlin’s GP2 Series team look ahead to the next round of the championship this weekend following their maiden win last time out in Hungary. Marussia Carlin driver Max Chilton heads to Spa-Francorchamps in a confident mood after taking victory in Hungary, while team mate Rio Haryanto is aiming to add to his points haul in his rookie season.

The previous round was a brilliant showing for the entire GP2 team with Chilton coming home to take the team’s first ever win in the Series following an impressive pole position during qualifying the previous day. Haryanto had one of his best performances of the season to come home in seventh position with a great opportunistic overtaking move completed on the final lap.

Located in the Ardennes forest the Spa-Francorchamps circuit suffers from unpredictable weather conditions which can change a race in seconds as the cars make their way around longest circuit on the GP2 calendar. Races are often thrown into chaos as rain falls on one side of the circuit but not on the other – making tyre strategy all the more important.

Hungary race winner Chilton is looking forward to getting back in the car after a lengthy break. “It was great to go into the four week break on a high with the confidence following the race win in Hungary. For Spa we have to maintain the motivation.

“The weather can either play into your hands or ruin your race. I’ve always loved the circuit though so we’ll see what happens this weekend.’

After an absence of three weeks the GP2 Series resumes this weekend in Valencia where the Marussia Carlin GP2 team will once again be hitting the track with drivers Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto as the 2012 season continues. Both Carlin drivers have scored points so far this season, with Chilton providing the team with its best ever finish in the championship after his storming drive to second position last time out in Monaco. Rookie team mate Haryanto has also been putting in some strong performances throughout the year.

The sixth round of the season will see the Carlin team descend on the Valencia street circuit – a semi-permanent track which makes the most of the views and roads around the city’s harbour area.

This will be the second and final street circuit that the championship visits this year. Both Carlin men have already battled around a twisty Monaco where Chilton take a stunning second place in the weekend’s sprint race. Chilton’s form sees him currently lying fourth in the driver standings.

Team mate Haryanto has been a solid runner in only his first season in the GP2 Series. The 19 year old from Indonesia has already gained a tally of 16 points which places him 15th in the overall standings – an impressive feat for his rookie year, having made the jump from the GP3 Series.

Looking ahead to this weekend Haryanto said, ‘I’m looking forward to Valencia this weekend, after a strong start to the season unfortunately I haven’t scored points in the last two events, so I’m hoping to pick up some more this weekend.

‘I’ve been in the simulator preparing for the race and I know the track well from having driven it last year in GP3. It’s a mixed track with slow corners in the first two sectors and high speed corners in the final sector. But it’s a track I like so I can’t wait to get back in the car.’

Track action will commence with practice on Friday at 12.00 local time.

Max ChiltonMax Chilton and Rio Haryanto completed a successful opening weekend in the 2012 GP2 Series, finishing seventh and tenth respectively in the Sprint race this morning. Marussia Carlin driver Chilton started sixth and was involved in several close battles on his way to seventh place and his second points finish of the weekend. Team mate Rio Haryanto finished in the top ten and claimed his first GP2 points for fastest lap.

Following his podium finish yesterday, Chilton lined up sixth on the grid today for the first reverse grid race of the season. With only the top eight reversed, Haryanto started in his finishing position from race one, in 12th place. At the start Chilton took the inside line at the first corner and found himself swamped as several cars took to the outside, and had dropped to 10th by the end of the first lap. Team mate Haryanto also suffered a similar start and dropped a couple of places from his 12th place grid slot.

Chilton was quick to fight back however and was a constant presence in the mirrors of Davide Valsecchi in the fight for eighth, while Haryanto was 14th. The 19 year-old Indonesian was soon making progress however, and had moved up to 13th on lap four and 12th just a few laps later due to a drive through for Fabrizio Crestani.

The fight between Chilton and Valsecchi continued for several laps, while Haryanto continued to make progress. The GP3 graduate was less than 10 seconds behind the leader on lap 11.

Chilton meanwhile was involved in more close racing as Valsecchi closed in on Luiz Razia in the fight for seventh. While Valsecchi and Razia were wheel to wheel and preoccupied with their own fight, Chilton seized the momentum to close in behind the duo. As Valsecchi ran wide, Chilton was in the perfect position to take advantage and snatch eighth, and put under pressure a recovering Razia.

Chilton’s next battle came as Razia closed in on Stefano Coletti. Again, Chilton was ready to take advantage of the squabble ahead, but ran wide which allowed Nathanaël Berthon through and pushed Chilton down to ninth.

Haryanto meanwhile had quietly been making his own progress and was now just behind Chilton in 10th place. Chilton was on the move again and a lap later re-passed Berthon for eighth and started chasing down Coletti again. With three laps remaining Chilton passed Coletti for seventh.

The action continued right to the line for Haryanto, who was wheel to wheel with Josef Kral before being involved in a close tussle and pit straight drag race with Tom Dillmann. Haryanto held on, taking 10th place by just 0.053 seconds from Dillmann. Highlighting his potential in the series, Haryanto also recorded the fastest lap to claim two championship points – his first in the GP2 Series.

“It was a very exciting race”, said Chilton “and again our pace was good. The car was brilliant and I raced as hard as I could. With some clear air I could have shown how fast the car really was, but the racing was great fun. I’m really looking forward to Bahrain!”

Haryanto was also happy with his performance commenting, “It was a fun race today, my start wasn’t so great but the car was quick and I pushed hard to make up the places. To get two points for the fastest lap is great and I think completes a good first weekend in the series. I can’t wait to get on the track again in Bahrain.”

Trevor Carlin added, “To have two cars in the top ten and score points today shows the step forward the team have made over the winter. We have a quick car and two drivers who clearly – based on their performances today – are real racers, which is the perfect combination for any team. Max and Rio have been fantastic this weekend.”

The GP2 Series continues in Bahrain from 20 – 22 April.

British race team Carlin have enjoyed a successful start to the 2012 season, with the team’s British F3 and GP3 squads topping the time sheets in pre-season testing. Carlin’s GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 teams have also clocked up times in the top three to mark a strong start to the season over the last two weeks.

British racer Harry Tincknell topped the timesheets in the second day of British F3 testing at Rockingham today, as the team continued to develop its Volkswagen powered 2012 Dallara F3 car. Tincknell’s time was the fastest of the test overall, after fellow Carlin driver Jack Harvey set the pace at Rockingham yesterday. The Carlin men have locked out the top five positions at both the Rockingham and Snetterton pre-season tests, with their team mates Jazeman Jaafar, Carlos Sainz and Pietro Fantin over the last two weeks.

While the British F3 team finished two days of testing at Rockingham today, Carlin’s Formula Renault 3.5 team brought to a close two days of collective testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Kevin Magnussen and Will Stevens both completed a successful test in the brand new FR3.5 car, with Magnussen setting the third fastest time of today’s running.

The Carlin GP3 team also enjoyed a successful outing this week, with Portuguese racer Antonio Felix da Costa setting the quickest time of the official two day test for Carlin. Will Buller was also in the top ten while Alex Brundle continued to make big improvements ahead of his first season in the series.

Preparing for the 2012 GP2 Series, Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto were out on track last week, at the Barcelona circuit in Spain. A consistent front runner in pre-season testing, Chilton set the second fastest time on the first day in Barcelona while Haryanto was seventh. The Briton and Indonesian continued to put in a strong performance in the final test before the season opener in Malaysia later this month.

Reflecting on a positive start to the 2012 season, Trevor Carlin said, “With 12 cars to prepare for the 2012 season across four championships, it’s a great testament to the team that all four squads have had such a strong start to the season. To finish each test within the top three is extremely encouraging and shows the hard work that has gone in over the winter period.”

Rio HaryantoThe Sandown F3 Superprix is set to be a melting pot of international racing talent following the conformation today that 16-year-old Indonesian Formula BMW star Rio Haryanto will return to the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship this November.

Haryanto, from Central Java in Indonesia, raced a National Class Dallara at Queensland Raceway in August this year but will step into outright contention at the Melbourne circuit, set to take to the wheel of an Astuti Motorsport F307 Dallara.

Already crowned the Formula BMW Pacific champion (with one round to spare), Haryanto will join drivers from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as outright contenders for Formula 3s toughest race of the year – an event that will double as a title showdown between Tim Macrow and Joey Foster.

Haryanto will drive the Astuti chassis driven to a race win last year at Oran Park by James Winslow.

The youngster has dominated proceedings in the competitive Formula BMW Asia championship this year and will finish that particular campaign one week before the Sandown event, at the Macau Grand Prix.

“It is fantastic that the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship can attract a champion driver from Asia like Rio,” Astuti Motorsport team owner Sam Astuti said.

“It shows the progress the series is making and the reputation it now has internationally. The field at Sandown will be first-class and we can’t wait for what should be a fantastic SuperPrix race.”

Driving a PHR Scuderia F304 Dallara, Haryanto scored a National Class pole position at Queensland Raceway and finished just behind class champion Tom Tweedie in the first race.

“As a team we were impressed with Rio’s performances at Queensland in the National Class car,” Astuti said.

“By the end of the weekend he was just as fast as the class benchmark and not far off the outright cars too. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do in the outright car at Sandown and I would say, based on his pace and successes in Asia so far this year, he will be very competitive.”

Haryanto will be a team-mate to Sydney driver Mat Sofi, his #2 AmPro Tools Dallara also prepared out of the Astuti Motorsport stable, giving the team two cars for the first time this season.

The Sandown F3 SuperPrix will be contested between November 27 – 29, alongside the final round of the 2009 Shannons Nationals.

For more information about the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship please visit www.formula3.com.au

Photo by F3A / Klynsmith Image