Mitch Evans fastest in opening day of Barcelona GP3 test
GP3 Series testing resumed in Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya for the second official pre-season test of 2012. There were six new faces on show: Carmen Jorda (Ocean Racing Technology), Kotaro Sakurai (Status Grand Prix), Tom Blomqvist (Status Grand Prix), Kevin Ceccon (Trident Racing) and John Wartique (Atech CRS GP). Carlos Sainz Junior stepped in at Lotus GP for Aaro Vainio who will return to action on day two of the test.
MW Arden Ace Mitch Evans posted the fastest time of day with a lap time of 1:38.609, just ahead of Cypriot Tio Ellinas and Daniel Abt in the morning session. It was the German who then went quickest in the afternoon, with times slower compared to the earlier part of the day, until the dying moments of the test.
Temperatures were cool as the test got underway in Spain and it was new signing Robert Cregan who initially led the timesheets. However, the Irishman ran wide in turn 9 later on and ended up in the gravel bed, thus causing a red flag. Trident Racing’s Kevin Ceccon then went quickest with a 1:40.172 ahead of Patric Niederhauser. Matias Laine went top until Abt became the first man to break into the 1.38s barrier. After the first hour, the Lotus GP driver had an advantage of 0.4s over the Finn.
A second red flag brought a halt to proceedings after Blomqvist paid a visit to the gravel trap after his first lap out on new tires. When the session resumed, Evans charged to the head of the timings with a lap of 1:38.609 which was 0.1s faster than the German. There was another stoppage in the morning after Fabiano Machado spun into the gravel at turn 8 and caused a third red flag. Tio Ellinas jumped up to P2 and was 0.124s off Evans best lap of 1:38.609 at the midway point of the session. The positions then remained fairly settled in the final hour with Abt in third ahead of David Fumanelli, Tamas Pal Kiss, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Laine. Ceccon, Niederhauser and Maxim Zimin completed the top ten.
The afternoon session was run in beautiful warm sunshine and it was Abt who set the early pace with a time of 1:39.343 ahead of fellow Lotus GP driver Sainz Jnr. There was another break in proceedings at the midpoint of the afternoon when Evans spun exiting turn 8 and the red flag came out.
In the final thirty minutes the track came alive as positions were swapping throughout the field. Marussia Manor Racing’s Ellinas shot to P1, 0.1s faster than Abt and then Sainz Jnr and Ceccon pushed the Cypriot down to P3. With fifteen minutes to go, MW Arden’s Laine went top, a mere 0.073s quicker than the Spanish rookie, until Abt regained his place at the top of the timesheets with less than five minutes on the clock. Final top ten was Abt, Laine, Ellinas, Sainz Jnr, Ceccon, Blomqvist, Fumanelli, Niederhauser, Conor Daly and Antonio Felix Da Costa.
The session was red flagged in the final moments after the Italian Ceccon spun into turn 4 and therefore the test was brought to a close as time had run out to continue.
The schedule for day two of the test is 09.00 – 12.00, with a one hour lunch break. The afternoon action will resume at 13.00 – 16.00
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