James Walker means business Succesfully preparing for a circuit which nobody is familiar with is never going to be easy. To do so, some drivers spent hours in a simulator to learn every twist and turn of the highly individual Algarve circuit. In...
James Walker means business
Succesfully preparing for a circuit which nobody is familiar with is never going to be easy. To do so, some drivers spent hours in a simulator to learn every twist and turn of the highly individual Algarve circuit. In particular, this was the strategy adopted by P1 Motorsport's James Walker and it has paid off as the British driver set the fastest lap in collective testing to lead Epsilon Euskadi's Dani Clos and Mofaz Motorsport's Fairuz Fauzy.
The temperature was rising in the Algarve for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective testing in every sense, with the air temperature reaching 35C and over 50C on the track. Relatively few drivers know this fast, undulating circuit. The traffic was therefore heavy at the start of the session. Three new drivers were getting their first taste of the class today. Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo got behind the wheel of his Number 1 car, while the Brazilians Alberto Valerio and Adriano Buzaid joined the ranks of Comtec Racing and Interwetten.com Racing. Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship leader, International Draco Racing's Bertrand Baguette was first off the mark. He was soon bettered by Daniil Move, driving for P1 Motorsport, and Fairuz Fauzy. The times continued to improve with every lap. After 20 minutes of the session, Baguette reclaimed the lead with a time of 1'35"472 to overtake Carlin Motorsport's Oliver Turvey who led Jaime Alguesuari.
While Bertrand Baguette held first place, the positions continued to change behind him. Fairuz Fauzy climbed into second position mid-session with just a narrow lead over Walker, Alguersuari and Ricciardo. As the closing minutes of the session drew closer, the situation changed again. Lap after lap, Tech 1 Racing's Charles Pic and then Interwetten.com Racing's Michaël Herck both snatched first place. Then it was the turn of Epsilon Euskadi's Clos to set the fastest lap in 1'34''916. On new tyres, Prema Powerteam's Filip Salaquarda lapped in 1'34''678 and took control of the session ahead of Clos, Baguette, Herck and Pic. Only Clos managed to stage a fight-back to reclaim his lead with a lap of 1'34''416. The Spaniard was sure he had done all he needed to, but he was disappointed at the last minute when James Walker took him by surprise to set the fastest lap of the day in 1'34''326. The Briton now led Clos, Fauzy, Pic and Salaquarda. Tomorrow's programme consists of a one hour session of free testing followed by qualifying.
James Walker: "I've spent a lot of time in the simulator to prepare for this race. The first laps were surprising, as everything is narrower than on the simulator and everything happens much, much quicker! This circuit is really exciting with its climbs, its drops and several changes of pace. It's really nice to drive here. The track will change a lot; there wasn't too much grip today. After La Mans, we need points! We need to be aggressive and attack as hard as we can to catch up with Baguette."
Daniel Ricciardo: "It's great to be here, and it's ideal to start on a circuit which everyone else is just learning. I was in the top 10 for most of the session, so it's very encouraging for a first run. Charles Pic set the fourth fastest time, I'm going to have a word with him and try and work out where I'm losing time. The car is a terrific drive. You learn a lot driving a car like this, it's really good experience!"