Zolder: Friday practice report

Heikki's Suburbia Tour Ride 23 April 2004 -- Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen was supreme on the free practice for the second round of the World Series by Nissan at Zolder in Belgium. The Pons Racing team leader was fastest in both sessions...

Heikki's Suburbia Tour Ride

23 April 2004 -- Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen was supreme on the free practice for the second round of the World Series by Nissan at Zolder in Belgium. The Pons Racing team leader was fastest in both sessions this afternoon, so signs look good for him as the competitive stage of the weekend gets underway tomorrow.

Kovalainen, a Renault development driver, is sixth in the championship standings after two solid showings in the season's opening races a month ago at Jarama. The point's leader, naturally enough, is Brazil's Enrique Bernoldi, by virtue of his double victory at those two races at the Madrid circuit.

Bernoldi was fourth-fastest today, but even those ahead of him were not even close to the flying Kovalainen. Carlin Motorsport driver Tiago Monteiro and Paul Belmondo Racing's Ryo Fukuda filled out the top three -- but Monteiro was fully half a second slower than Mr Kovalainen.

Even more impressive was the fact that Heikki set his quickest lap in the slower of the two sessions, which was the late afternoon one that was interrupted by numerous red flags. The first six of his pursuers all did their best times in the earlier outing.

Carlin Motorsport has filled its second seat for this weekend, and it's being occupied by Irishman Michael Keohane. He's never driven a World Series car until this week, and he's still taking time to get used to it. Keohane was one of several to be caught out at the tricky first corner today (Tristan Gommendy and Pablo Donoso were also amongst them), and landed up 18th of the 19th runners.

Formula 1 driver Ralph Firman is also still working his way up to speed, although he too set his best time in the first session. Today he was 15th in the combined classification in his Gabord Reyco entry.

The only drivers besides Kovalainen to go faster in the second part of practice were Carlin's Narain Karthikeyan (whose first session was a virtual write-off with technical problems), Olivier Pla (RC Motorsport), Juan Cruz Alvarez (Gabord Reyco), Keohane and Roldan Rodriguez (Porfesa Competicio).

Pellegrino Heads World Series Lights Field

Italian class act Matteo Pellegrino (Vergani Formula) led his team-mate Milos Pavlovic after the two sessions in the World Series Light category on a fine spring day at Zolder. Pellegrino set a time almost three-tenths faster than his Yugoslavian colleague.

Every one of the eight competitors went faster in the cool second session, which was the last of the day. With the exception, that is, of eighth-placed Harald Primat (Saulnier Racing).

Primat's team-mate Mathieu Lahaye fared a little better by taking fifth position, but it was Meycom Sport's Celso Miguez who landed up third-best after the day was done. Miguez made a startling recovery after being last in the first session, finding more than two seconds in the second.

-rpm-

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Enrique Bernoldi , Narain Karthikeyan , Ryo Fukuda , Michael Keohane , Heikki Kovalainen , Ralph Firman , Paul Belmondo , Tristan Gommendy , Olivier Pla , Juan Cruz Alvarez , Pablo Donoso , Celso Miguez , Milos Pavlovic , Matthieu Lahaye
Teams Carlin