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James Jakes sets the pace in Abu Dhabi
Less than two weeks after the conclusion of the 2010 season, the GP2 Series paddock flew back to Abu Dhabi to conduct four days of post-season testing. A mix of old and new faces were behind the wheels of the twenty four cars today, with six drivers coming from GP3 Series, namely Champion Esteban Gutierrez at ART Grand Prix, Vice Champion Robert Wickens at iSport, Roberto Merhi and Simon Trummer at Arden, James Jakes at Scuderia Coloni and Stefano Coletti at Trident. Both Gutierrez and Coletti have already been confirmed as GP2 drivers for 2011.

As the pitlane opened this morning, Rodolfo Gonzalez at Racing Engineering took to the track first, but it was Charles Pic at Barwa Addax who set the early pace with a 1:49.379 lap before Super Nova’s Marcus Ericsson bettered the Frenchman’s lap time by one tenth of a second. With one hour left on the clock, Jakes moved up to P1 but only temporarily as Michael Herck at DPR claimed the top spot a few minutes later - his fastest lap time of 1:48.447 (one tenth faster than Oliver Turvey’s pole position in this season’s last round) was never beaten. The session was briefly red flagged four times as less experienced drivers span on track without damaging their cars.

The afternoon session started off slowly with Fabio Leimer taking to the track first at the wheel of Champions’ Rapax car. Coletti set the early pace ahead of newcomer Andrea Caldarelli at Racing Engineering, with Herck hot on their tail. Mid-session saw Gutierrez moving up to P1 and staying at the top of the timing sheets until Jolyon Palmer at iSport improved the Mexican’s fastest lap time. The last ten minutes of the session felt like a qualifying session with Racing Engineering’s Rodolfo Gonzalez snatching top spot while Caldarelli, iSport’s Wickens and newcomer Kevin Ceccon at Coloni all moved up to the Top 5. A short red flag did not tame the field and in the dying minutes Ceccon’s teammate for the day Jakes clocked in a blazing lap time of a 1:47.790. Gutierrez’s last efforts could only land him 0.4 seconds behind the Brit while Pic’s very last attempt could not get him higher than P3.

Tomorrow’s session will start at 9am local time. Drivers entry list is available at www.gp2series.com

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