Hartley tops Renault test, American Rossi 2nd New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley led the way as Formula Renault 3.5 testing came to a close at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday. Following the 2010 season finale on Sunday, the teams have stayed on for two days of post-season running before heading to Motorland Arag¢n after the weekend.
Not present for the final two races of this year’s campaign, Hartley has travelled to Barcelona for two chiefly damp days of running at the venue, where he was driving for P1 Motorsport.
The Kiwi was accompanied on-track by a mix of old and new faces, with Daniel de Jong driving a Formula Renault 3.5 car for the first time after starring in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 races at the weekend.
Others driver changes saw Nathanael Berthon run with Tech 1 Racing for the first time as Giovanni Venturini linked up with the Junior Lotus Racing squad. At Epsilon Euskadi was Sergio Canamasas, as Daniel Zampieri switched to Fortec Motorsport and Daniil Move to ISR.
Having excited the local crowds courtesy of some daring passing on Saturday, Albert Costa’s Epsilon Euskadi car was the early pace-setter on wet Wednesday morning, clocking a series of rapid laps to top the timesheets in the opening stages; however, Anton Nebilitskiy and Daniel Zampieri then moved ahead.
Only in the final 20 minutes were the cars able to fit dry, Slick tires, with Hartley eventually moving ahead courtesy of a 1:37.460 effort. The United States’ Alexander Rossi, fresh from GP3, was second for ISR as Britain’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs – also up from GP3 and quickest on Tuesday – made the top three for Comtec.
With Costa fifth and Ferrari academy driver Mirko Bortolotti eighth, another notable top ten performer was Carlin’s Max Chilton - another former GP3 racer and younger brother of Team AON British Touring Car star Tom; compatriots Will Stevens and Daniel McKenzie – British Formula 3 National Class Champion of 2009 – ended the session 16th and 18th fastest in the 20-car field.
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