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Davide Valsecchi leads the way
Davide Valsecchi
The GP2 Series paddock gathered this week at Circuit de Catalunya for the final 2011 pre-season testing. The thirteen teams have two days to prepare before the opening round in Istanbul in three weeks time.

Sunshine and a dry track welcomed the twenty-six cars this morning. The first half hour of the session was pretty quiet as drivers took to the track in order to complete installation laps. Julian Leal was the first one to set a lap time for Rapax, but it was Jolyon Palmer at Arden International who set the early pace.

Carlin’s Max Chilton soon improved his countryman’s personal best and moved to the top of the timesheet. At the halfway mark, Davide Valsecchi at Team AirAsia broke the 1:30 barrier and went quickest, one tenth ahead of Romain Grosjean at Dams while GP3 Series Champion Esteban Gutierrez moved into P4. The Lotus ART driver improved further on his following lap and ended a shy 0.06s behind Valsecchi. The Italian’s domination of the timesheet was short-lived however as Barwa Addax’s Charles Pic put his head down and edged Valsecchi out of the top spot by 0.04s. The Frenchman’s lap time remained unbeaten until the checkered flag with Valsecchi and Gutierrez rounding out the top three.

As the afternoon session started, it was Valsecchi who set the early pace. But just before the one hour mark, Lotus ART’s Jules Bianchi went top, improving the Italian’s lap time by 1.9s. From then on, the rest of the field’s mission was to close the gap with the Frenchman. It started with Sam Bird at iSport, but soon after that, rookie Kevin Mirocha at Ocean Racing improved and moved up to P2. In the following minutes, it was Chilton who got the nearest to Bianchi’s lap time – 0.6s closer. It was then Grosjean and Gutierrez’s turn to move up to P2 and P3 respectively, four tenths from Bianchi’s personal best. In the final hour, Luca Filippi at Super Nova found some extra pace to knock the Lotus ART driver off the top spot while Scuderia Coloni’s Michael Herck went P3. The Romanian lost a position to Valsecchi when the Team AirAsia man improved his lap time with thirty minutes left on the clock. On his following lap, the Italian went even quicker, which was enough to take control of the timesheet. As the drivers started a string of fast laps, a red flag briefly interrupted the proceedings. After the pitlane reopened, the top ten remained unchanged. A second red flag with five minutes left on the clock halted everyone’s last efforts. The session was green flagged one last time, but Valsecchi’s fastest lap time stayed unbeaten.

The testing will resume tomorrow at 9am local time.

Morning session

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:29.875 31
2. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:29.915 23
3. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:29.976 25
4. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:30.051 19
5. Sam Bird iSport International 1:30.059 23
6. Max Chilton Carlin 1:30.183 25
7. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:30.228 27
8. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:30.347 21
9. Luiz Razia Team AirAsia 1:30.364 24
10. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:30.430 19
11. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:30.450 29
12. Oliver Turvey Carlin 1:30.623 21
13. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:30.671 19
14. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:30.760 24
15. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:30.857 22
16. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:30.866 26
17. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:30.900 25
18. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:30.924 19
19. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:30.959 18
20. Julian Leal Rapax 1:30.982 26
21. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:31.070 27
22. Josef Kral Arden International 1:31.263 17
23. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:31.322 20
24. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:31.531 21
25. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:31.854 21
26. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:32.162 18

Afternoon Session
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:29.718 23
2. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:29.743 19
3. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:29.912 18
4. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:30.262 28
5. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:30.371 25
6. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:30.402 14
7. Luiz Razia Team AirAsia 1:30.544 28
8. Max Chilton Carlin 1:30.602 18
9. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:30.780 21
10. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:30.807 19
11. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:30.825 23
12. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:30.956 28
13. Oliver Turvey Carlin 1:30.956 23
14. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:30.964 19
15. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:30.982 25
16. Julian Leal Rapax 1:31.125 20
17. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Engineering 1:31.248 20
18. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:31.252 20
19. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Engineering 1:31.311 20
20. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:31.342 19
21. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:31.639 19
22. Sam Bird iSport International 1:31.766 29
23. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:31.921 31
24. Josef Kral Arden International 1:32.366 25
25. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:32.900 13
26. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:33.747 35
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