Strakka Racing Formula Renault 3.5 Red Bull Ring races review

Strakka Racing Formula Renault 3.5 Red Bull Ring races review

13.07.2015: Pair of hard-fought seventh place results hoist Gustav Malja into series top

Pair of hard-fought seventh place results hoist Gustav Malja into series top 10



Swedish driver closes to within five points of team-mate Tio Ellinas on mixed weekend for Strakka Racing at Red Bull Ring


Formula Renault 3.5 Series front-runners Gustav Malja and Tio Ellinas battled the odds impressively during the fifth event of the 2015 season on Sunday, 12th July, to earn some well-deserved points finishes from lower than expected qualifying positions.


Ellinas dominated the early part of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring with the fastest time in pre-event testing, and he went on to also deliver top two pace in final practice on Saturday, 11th July. With qualifying not working out as intended, though, the Cypriot had to settle for a best finish of ninth in round eight on Sunday morning before adding 13th place in round nine later in the day.


Malja was happier with his first qualifying run, seventh on the grid for race one within just 0.3 seconds of the front row, but it was his race two drive – from 14th on the grid – which impressed most as he carved his way through to match his earlier top seven finish.


“It’s been a decent weekend overall and I’m happy to have now reached a level where I’m regularly able to bring home some good points for the team – we are growing and learning with each round,” said Malja, “I’m taking a positive feeling into the summer break and I really can’t wait to get back underway at Silverstone.”


At the start of round eight, Malja made a good getaway and climbed into the top six prior to the emergence of the Safety Car following a lap one tangle. Just prior to the resumption at the end of lap three, the Strakka driver had to take quick avoiding action to miss making contact with Roberto Merhi, as the Spaniard slowed unexpectedly, and the delay dropped Malja back to seventh.


After another Safety Car shortly before mid-distance, Malja was edged back to eighth where he concluded the 27 lap contest but post-race he was elevated into seventh due to a penalty for Merhi.


Ellinas, lining-up 10th on the grid, slipped back a position initially before swiftly returning to the top 10 where he remained for the entire duration, running very similar pace to Malja. Taking the chequered flag less than a couple of seconds adrift of his team-mate, due to Merhi’s penalty the Cypriot was eventually classified in ninth position.


For round nine, both Strakka drivers had a huge amount of hard work to do with Malja starting the race in 15th position and Ellinas 19th after a troublesome run in second qualifying.


Malja made an excellent start to the second encounter and he concluded lap one inside the top 10 before moving into eighth on lap two as he continued his rise up the order. Remaining there until lap 16, he then grabbed seventh at the expense of Meindert van Buuren following a costly error from the Dutchman. Staying in seventh to the flag on lap 31, Malja once again chalked-up some very valuable points for his series total.




From near the tail of the grid, Ellinas knew he had to try and make rapid early gains and he delivered, amazingly rocketing up into 11th position just behind his team-mate by the end of the first lap. Rising as high as ninth by lap six, Ellinas then had to pit with an issue a few laps later and although rejoining the action, he ended the race a lap down disappointed in 13th position.


“I went up the inside of Bonifacio for turn five and he closed the door, so I went slightly on the grass but managed to overtake him,” reflected Ellinas. “The next lap the engine went into safe mode because of grass on the radiator. It’s frustrating but we head to Silverstone and I really want to do well for the team’s home race.”


Ellinas concluded the weekend holding on to eighth in the championship standings while Malja is also now inside the top 10, within five points of his team-mate. In the team standings, Strakka holds fifth position just two points shy of the top four.Next on the Formula 3.5 Series calendar is Strakka Racing’s home event, rounds 10 and 11 at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire, over the weekend 5th/6th September.


Nick Bailey- photos Strakka Racing

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13.07.2015 / MaP

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