Laine quickest on day one of Valencia test Following the first two rounds of the 2012 GP3 Series, the cars returned to action, this time for a two day mid-season test at Valencia. It was Finland’s Matias Laine who was quickest in the morning session with a time of 1:26.610 squeezing out Daniel Abt’s Lotus GP with Nico Muller quickest in the afternoon.
There was a new face to the driving line-up with Samin Gomez from Venezuela testing for Jenzer Motorsport and making her debut in a GP3 car, and thus making it four female drivers competing in the test! Former GP3 driver Muller was welcomed back as he got behind the wheel of the Trident Racing car for testing purposes. Alex Brundle misses this the two day session in Valencia due to Le Mans duty.
Under hazy sunshine the session got underway with a lot of humidity early on. The trio of MW Arden cars were first to take to the track to put down their installation laps as everyone wanted to get to grips with the Spanish circuit. Laine went P1 early on until Marlon Stockinger (Status Grand Prix) took over at the top of the timesheets.
The session was red flagged when Fabiano Machado (Marussia Manor Racing) had a visit to the gravel trap and once the track had gone back to green flag conditions it was his teammate Tio Ellinas who shot to the top of the standings. Laine then went fastest and remained top of the timings until the chequered flag. However, there was a group of drivers close in pursuit to challenge his best time of the morning, with Laine edging out Abt by a mere 0.003s. Ellinas was also just 0.019s behind the Finn with David Fumanelli (MW Arden), Stockinger, Antonio Felix Da Costa (Carlin), Conor Daly (Lotus GP), Patric Niederhauser (Jenzer Motorsport), Mitch Evans (MW Arden) and Muller completed the top ten. Laine and Vainio stopped on the circuit in the final moments of the test with technical issues.
William Buller set the initial pace at the beginning of the afternoon session until Felix Da Costa bettered his Carlin teammate’s time to go P1. There was a brief interruption of a red flag after Machado stopped on the track and after one hour down, it was Daly who jumped to the top of the timesheets and retained that place during the mid-point. As the drivers concentrated on long runs and the temperature increased, Muller produced a hot lap to beat Daly’s time at the head of the standings.
Ocean Racing Technology’s Kevin Ceccon progressed to P3 in the final 20 minutes, closely followed by Ellinas who went P2. Felix Da Costa then went P1 with 15 minutes to go, half a second quicker than his rivals. Fumanelli also improved to go P4 as the times tumbled down in the dying moments. The fight to be on top was not over as Muller reclaimed his position at the head of the standings with eight minutes remaining, recording a laptime of 1:26.865, two tenths slower than Laine’s quickest time of the morning. The top ten finished as Muller, Felix Da Costa, Ellinas, Fumanelli, Ceccon, Daly, Robert Visoiu (Jenzer Motorsport), Laine and Abt.
GP3 Series is next on track tomorrow for day two of the Valencia test. The session will run from 09.00 – 12.00 with a one hour break and the afternoon session running from 13.00 – 16.00.
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