Mitch Evans leads the way in Barcelona The first post season GP3 Series test kicked off today at Circuit de Catalunya, and there were lots of new faces in the paddock. With the majority of the 2011 field moving on this season it was time to welcome a new batch of drivers hoping to impress teams and grab a coveted 2012 race seat including British Formula Ford champion Scott Malvern, Ferrari protégé Brandon Maisano and Kevin Korjus.
The teams were greeted with thick fog at the Spanish track this morning which delayed the start of the session by thirty minutes. Once underway the twenty-six young drivers hit the track on wet weather Pirelli P Zero tires to complete installation laps and survey the damp conditions. Rookie Tio Ellinas was first to top the time sheets for MW Arden, but before long the drivers got to grips with their new machines and the times started to drop with Lotus ART’s rookie Daniel Abt the first driver under two minutes.
As the track dried out the drivers switched to slick Pirelli tires and the rookies started to shine. Ellinas, Abt, Maisano, Miki Weckstrom, Nicolas Costa, and Michael Heche all took their turns at the top, but in the end it was sophomore Evans who took control of the session. With just a few minutes remaining on the clock the New Zealander topped the time sheets with a 1:39.695 lap leaving the remainder of the field unable to react. Korjus was 0.367 seconds behind Evans in second with Carlos Huertas, Ellinas, Maisano, Weckstrom, Tamas Pal Kiss, Nick Yelloly, Gabby Chaves and Heche rounding out the top ten.
By the afternoon conditions had continued and the teams were treated to bright sunshine. Abt topped the times sheets for Lotus ART for the first thirty minutes of the session, but Evans soon took control and moved up into P1. As the teams and drivers concentrated on setups the times remained relatively unchanged at the top until thirty minutes from the end when Abt once again moved into the top spot. But in the final few minutes Evans was back in charge moving to the top of the timesheet where his time of 1:39.037 remained unbeaten. Matias Laine set the second quickest time ahead of Huertas, Ellinas, Abt, Korjus, Weckstrom, Pal Kiss, Yelloly and Edoardo Liberati.
Just three red flags interrupted proceedings caused by Ethan Ringal, Kotaro Sakuri and Huertas going off track.
Testing will resume tomorrow at 09:00 am local time.
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