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Jack Clarke and Mihai Marinescu set pace at Silverstone
Jack Clarke
British driver Jack Clarke and Romania’s Mihai Marinescu set the pace in free practice for the opening round of the 2011 FIA Formula Two Championship at Silverstone today (Friday).

Clarke, who embarks on his third F2 campaign this season after finishing ninth in 2010, led the way in the 45-minute opening session with a fastest time of 1m51.629s around the 3.67-mile Arena circuit, which is home to the British Grand Prix.

Spain’s Ramon Pineiro finished free practice one in second position, with Italy’s Mirko Bortolotti – who returns to F2 in 2011 after a season in GP3 – in third position.

Mihai Marinescu
In the afternoon session, Marinescu emerged victorious after a flurry of late efforts from the F2 field to top the timesheets with a quickest lap of 1m51.636s – narrowly beating Clarke’s morning benchmark.

Pineiro once again secured second quickest, with Germany’s Tobias Hegewald edging out Spanish Formula Two debutant Miki Monras – who set the pace for the majority of the second 45-minute session – to clinch third.

Jack Clarke said: "It's the perfect way to start my season. I managed to put in a solid lap before my tires began to fade but I know I still have much to give. There's added pressure competing on my home circuit but I like to think I cope well under pressure."

Marinescu added: "That was a good session and I enjoy driving Silverstone with its fast, sweeping corners. It's good to know we have the pace and I'm confident we can produce it in tomorrow's qualifying which will be really important."

In addition to Clarke, several of F2’s further British hopes made a strong start to their campaign, with local driver Will Bratt from Banbury clinching two top ten results. King’s Lynn’s Alex Brundle – son of former Grand Prix driver Martin – finished sixth in the opening session, whilst Formula Two newcomer James Cole from Merseyside ended the afternoon session fifth quickest.

Other drivers to perform well included Dutchman Kelvin Snoeks, Russia’s Max Snegirev, Frenchman Benjamin Lariche and Swiss rookie Christopher Zanella, all of whom recorded top ten times during one of the sessions.

Action will continue at Silverstone with qualifying one at 10.10am on Saturday, followed by race one at 2.00pm. Qualifying two and race two will take place on Sunday at 9.30am and 2.40pm respectively.

Free practice one:
1. Jack Clarke, 1m51.629s
2. Ramon Pineiro, +0.100s
3. Mirko Bortolotti, +0.251s
4. Mihai Marinescu, +0.255s
5. Miki Monras, +0.313s
6. Alex Brundle, +0.368s
7. Will Bratt, +0.739s
8. Christopher Zanella, +0.882s
9. Tobias Hegewald, +0.917s
10. Benjamin Lariche, +0.978s

Free practice two:
1. Mihai Marinescu, 1m51.636s
2. Ramon Pineiro, +0.257s
3. Tobias Hegewald, +0.671s
4. Miki Monras, +0.855s
5. James Cole, +0.946s
6. Kelvin Snoeks, +0.984s
7. Max Snegirev, +1.072s
8. Thiemo Storz, +1.099s
9. Will Bratt, +1.156s
10. Jack Clarke, +1.204s

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