Dillmann fastest on first day at Estoril
20 March 2008 – On the first of the two days of testing at Estoril, the former Portuguese Grand Prix circuit, Tom Dillmann (SG Formula, 1:32.313 min) secured the top position on the time sheets. Behind the French driver, Koudai Tsukakoshi (Manor Motorsport, 1:32.379 min) and Henkie Waldschmidt (SG Formula, 1:32.382 min) finished second and third respectively.
Dillmann set his fastest lap with just seven more minutes to go, on day one, and defended his lead until the afternoon session was over. "Throughout the day, I had been quick on old tyres," beamed the SG driver. "And the fresh set of tyres offered me the chance of taking first position. A position that is something special for me as SG Formula has entered the Formula 3 Euro Series only this year. For me, it was somewhat like coming home as I already have raced for the squad in Formula Renault."
Henkie Waldschmidt completed the French team's success by clocking the third fastest lap time of the day, at Estoril. "The day went really well," said the fastest rookie of the day, "far better than expected."
The position between the two SG drivers was clinched by Manor's Koudai Tsukakoshi. "I still made some minor mistakes," he admitted. "I need some more experience, than I will be able to do even better," he challenged Dillmann regarding the second day of testing.
Nico Hülkenberg (ART Grand Prix, 1:32.457 min), who held the lead for a long time, had to settle for finishing fourth. On his fastest lap, the German made a minor mistake but this was enough to bar him from clocking a better lap time. "I don't care," he said. "I know that it can be done and that's far more important than holding first position on the time sheets."
Despite having completed just a few laps, Christian Vietoris (Mücke Motorsport, 1:32.948 min) also made it to the top ten. In the morning session, the German's mileage was extremely limited due to technical problems and in the afternoon, he was hampered by an engine change. Vietoris could join the test with just half an hour to go, still, he succeeded in working his way up to ninth position. "A pity, he said, "this could have been a really good day, for us. Still, it's not too bad as the testing times don't count. The fact that we couldn't complete our scheduled programme is far more annoying. Now we will have to work really hard, tomorrow."