Malja takes second points finish of Silverstone weekend in action-packed race two
Strakka Racing claims strong haul of points while first corner contact prevents podium challenge for race one winner Ellinas
Gustav Malja raced to another highly competitive points finish during round 11 of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Silverstone this afternoon, Sunday, 6th September, with eighth spot helping consolidate his place in the championship top 10.
Having to start the contest from 11th on grid, due to his quickest time in qualifying – which originally placed him fifth – having been deleted due to a track limits infringement, the Swede produced an impressive performance to cap a consistent weekend for Strakka.
“This was a positive weekend and elements I have been practicing in the run up to the weekend, such as attacking on the pit entry helped us,” said Malja, “The team did a great job at their home race meaning we had good pace in quali and the race and the lads ensure it was a really clean pit stop. I thought I could finish in the top six but I flat spotted the tyre and that meant I just had to bring the car home. Now I can't wait for the Nurburgring, it's a track I have won at, both in the wet and dry.
Team-mate Tio Ellinas, brimming with confidence after his memorable, and thoroughly dominant, victory in round 10 on Saturday, saw hopes of more silverware vanish yards from the start when contact pitched him off the circuit at the first corner.
Mounting a superb recovery, though, the Cypriot did manage to carve his way through into the top 10 after a tremendous effort but ultimately had to settle for 11th when a last lap move on Aurelien Panis at Luffield didn’t work out.
Ellinas commented: “After getting tagged in the first corner, I just got my head down and focussed on overtaking. It was fun carving back up the order but further contact meant I lost the chance for an even better finish."
Off the back of a perfect day on Saturday with his maiden pole position and victory, Ellinas was again in the fight for pole in the round 11 session into the closing stages but ultimately had to settle for the seventh fastest time.
Malja managed to usurp his team-mate by roughly a tenth of a second to secure a top five start for race two but with his quickest time expunged, the Swede actually started the race in 11th with Ellinas moving on to the third row.
From there, Ellinas could justifiably hope to mount a podium bid at the very least but as he headed into Copse off the start, the Strakka car was tipped into a costly spin.
Able to recover, albeit a long way down in last position, Ellinas took an early tyre change and when the race order shook out after the mandatory stops, the strategy had worked a treat as he held 13th position.
Following a mid-race Safety Car period, Ellinas instantly grabbed 12th place and by lap 15 he had broken into the top 10 with a desire for more.
Bottled up behind Panis during the closing stages, Ellinas saw his chance at Luffield on the final lap. Panis had other ideas and, after a spin, for Ellinas, he recovered to finish in 11th place.
From row six on the grid, Malja slipped back to 12th on lap one but soon hit back on the second tour and by the end of lap three he had leapt into ninth position.
Claiming eighth on lap five, after problems for Jazeman Jaafar, Malja then moved into seventh prior to his pit stop. When the race order settled down, the Strakka driver held an excellent sixth place where he remained until three laps from the finish.
After being nudged back to seventh at Brooklands on lap 22, he then slipped behind Nick Yelloly to eighth where he remained to the chequered flag on lap 24.
Following Strakka’s ‘home’ racing meeting, the Silverstone-based squad is fourth in the team standings with 108 points. In the driver standings, Ellinas is seventh with 63 points while Malja is 10th on 45 points.
There is now a quick turnaround for Strakka Racing and the rest of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series paddock with rounds 12 and 13 of the season taking place next weekend, 12th/13th September, at the Nurburgring in Germany.
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About Strakka Racing
From early domestic campaigns with BMWs and Aston Martins, Strakka Racing has evolved to become one of the most respected and successful privateer teams in the World Endurance Championship. In 2010 the Silverstone-based team achieved a class win, five circuit records and fifth overall in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours. In 2013, it secured a second Le Mans win in the LMP1 Privateers’ class. Ever developing, in 2013 Strakka Racing entered the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series single-seater championship, regarded as one of the best training grounds for F1. In 2015 Strakka Racing is competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship in a Gibson 015S together with a two car campaign in World Series by Renault.