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British Formula 3 Champion Daniel Ricciardo demonstrated fine pace by setting the best lap time as Barcelona testing continued on Wednesday. The Australian's Tech 1 car topped the timesheets at the Circuit de Catalunya from fellow rookie and Epsilon Euskadi pilot Albert Costa.
A few overnight changes were in evidence. Sten Pentus had joined the ranks of Prema Powerteam, alongside Julian Leal. Spanish driver Victor Garcia lined up in International Draco Racing colours. Greg Mansell and Federico Leo were installed behind the wheels of Mofaz Fortec Motorsport cars this morning, while Nathanaël Berthon and Anton Nebylitskiy were with KMP Group / SG Formula and RC Motorsport respectively. Margot Laffite, one of the participants in Eurocup Mégane Trophy this season, was to be seen discovering Formula Renault 3.5 for the first time with a full-scale trial set up especially for a French TV channel.
As the morning session got started, it was Daniel Ricciardo and Albert Costa who showed the first turns of pace. The two drivers underlined the excellent form shown by the rookies during these collective testing sessions. The Tech 1 Racing and Epsilon Euskadi drivers took turns to top the timing charts in the early laps. The two Pons Racing single-seaters, with Michele Faccin and Neslon Panciatici at the wheel, were also on the pace in the first half hour.
James Walker (P1 Motorsport) proceeded to mix it up with the rookies, just to demonstrate that experience can have its uses! With a lap clocked in a time of 1:35.384, he took over the top spot. Daniel Ricciardo and Albert Costa weren't having any of it though and grabbed the leadership back. After the first hour of the session, the P1 Motorsport team upped the stakes again. Walter Grubmüller then James Walker went to the top of the timing charts. With the weather glorious and the track fast, Albert Costa now took the advantage, improving on Tuesday's reference time set by Jean-Éric Vergne, and recording a lap time of 1:34.157.
It was Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, British Formula 3 champion in 2009, who was to come out of the morning's session on top. He set a provisional fastest lap time of 1:34.092, before the new tires came out at the end of the session. And it was Ricciardo again who took advantage of the new rubber, improving on consecutive laps and -with a final flying lap in 1:33.574- claiming first place as the chequered flag came out. He finished the morning ahead of Albert Costa, Nathanaël Berthon, James Walker and Jean-Éric Vergne.
In the afternoon, the drivers were out on track as soon as the green light came on. Daniel Zampieri went to the top of the timing chart with a time of 1:34.340, ahead of Albert Costa and Greg Mansell. We had to wait for almost an hour before things hotted up again. It was Jean-Éric Vergne who launched the first salvo, shoot into third position. Albert Costa took his turn to charge, but stayed second. Unfortunately, ten minutes before the end of the session, the drivers were thwarted in their ambitions by a red flag, brought out after Sergey Afanasiev (Carlin Motorsport) and then Sten Pentus span out. The session did not restart. Daniel Zampieri claimed the best time of the afternoon, ahead of Albert Costa, Jean-Éric Vergne, Greg Mansell and Nathanaël Berthon.
World Series by Renault
Tech 1 Racing
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