De Marco goes quickest in free practice two
Nicola De Marco produced a stunning last minute lap to set the overall pace during second free practice at Imola today (Friday).
The Italian was in a leery mood throughout the 30-minute session and recovered from some lurid moments early on. The 19-year-old had earlier looked to be setting the benchmark time until a moment in the final sector scuppered his lap. He responded well late on to take top spot away from Kazim Vasiliauskas.
Vasiliauskas led for much of the session as the Lithuanian's reputation continues to rise during his maiden full season of single seater racing. Like De Marco, Milos Pavlovic also set a last ditch lap to end up third ahead of Mikhail Aleshin - the top four drivers were separated by just 0.152s.
Championship leader Andy Soucek improved to take fifth, whilst Philipp Eng saw off a late attack from Germán Sánchez to maintain sixth position. Spaniard Sánchez put in an impressive performance to set the seventh fastest time - his best session result of the season.
The session was red flagged early on when Armaan Ebrahim was caught out at Rivazza, the Indian pilot needing assistance to get back underway following a spin. At the midway stage, Jens Höing went off at the approach to Tamburello and was almost immediately followed by compatriot Tobias Hegewald - the German duo were able to rejoin later in the session.
Natacha Gachnang also spun and rejoined, shortly before a big off for Julien Jousse brought a premature end to practice. The Frenchman lost control on the exit of Minerali and was beached in the gravel. There was no damage to either car or driver, but the session was stopped with the car dangerously stranded near the circuit.
With several drivers on quicker laps, the red flag prevented anyone from moving up the field and De Marco finished the session on top: "It was a very good session," said Nicola. "I had some problems this morning but things are much better now. Set up is quite difficult here as the circuit conditions are changing and there is a mixture of straights, and fast and slow corners. Everything is good for now."
The Italian's flying lap prevented Vasiliauskas from ending up at the top of the timesheets, but the youngster remains in positive mood: "I am going for race wins for the rest of the season," said Kazim. "I am using the boost well but I need to improve in one corner in particular. If it is dry this weekend then I believe I can challenge for the win - this is one of my favorite circuits."
The opening qualifying session of the weekend will take place at 4pm (local time) later today.
1. Nicola De Marco, 1:39.800s
2. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +0.041s
3. Miloš Pavlovic, +0.090s
4. Mikhail Aleshin, +0.152s
5. Andy Soucek, +0.229s
6. Philipp Eng, +0.277s
7. Germán Sánchez, +0.288s
8. Edoardo Piscopo, +0.312s
9. Mirko Bortolotti, +0.457s
10. Julien Jousse, +0.466s