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After being one of the front-runners in last week's test session at Yas Marina circuit, Davide Valsecchi confirmed his good form in today's GP2 Asia Series third season opener in Abu Dhabi. The Italian signed the quickest laptime in free practice this morning in a 1:53.689, 1.4 seconds clear from rookie Marcus Ericsson at ART Grand Prix.
The session started on a dirty and slippery track. Although Luca Filippi (Meritus) claimed the top spot in the early stages, Valsecchi soon after edged his countryman out of it only nine minutes into the session. He remained the quickest man on track until the chequered flag.
Behind the flying Italian, the rest of the field kept fighting for the crumbs, except for Josef Kral at Super Nova who stopped at turn 4 before mid-session following what looked like mechanical gremlins. The rookies certainly made their presence felt with Sam Bird (ART), Fabio Leimer (Ocean Racing), Kral, Edoardo Piscopo (DAMS) and Alexander Rossi (Ocean Racing) all front-runners in the first fifteen minutes. Amidst the young guns, Filippi and Roldan Rodriguez (Coloni) tried to keep up with Valsecchi, but never could come close.
With most of the pack in the pits, DPR's Michael Herck who decided to come out later took advantage of better grip and a clear track to set his best laptime and slipped into second place. He was edged out of it a few minutes before the chequered flag by the best rookie of the morning, Ericsson. In his last lap, for good measure, Valsecchi found even more pace to improve all three sectors and fire in a lap seven tenths quicker than his previous best leaving Ericsson 1.4 seconds behind him although the Swedish also improved in his last attempt.
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