Championship leader Franck Montagny quickest in Superfund World Series By Nissan practice
The fastest single seater championship in Europe returns to Spain this weekend as Barcelona plays host to the seventh round of the Superfund World Series by Nissan. After recently becoming Renault's new Formula 1 test driver, Franck Montagny is hoping to celebrate by clinching the drivers' championship at his home town track.
The Gabord Competicion driver got his weekend of to the perfect start by setting the fastest time in the second of the day's two practice sessions. However, the Frenchman will have to fight for his title this weekend. Epsilon Euskadi's Ander Vilarino was fastest in the morning session, while his team-mate, Jean Christophe Ravier, was second in both.
The drivers who could still deny Montagny the championship enjoyed mixed fortunes: Stephane Sarrazin spun and damaged his car in the first session, but was fourth quickest in the second; his Racing Engineering team-mate Bas Leinders was only ninth and seventh fastest; while Tata Team Carlin's Narain Karthikeyan showed he will be a threat by posting the third best times in both sessions.
Bruno Besson did a solid job to be sixth fastest overall for Saulnier Racing, but the Frenchman thinks there's more to come, as does his countryman Bruce Jouanny, seventh for Carlin Motorsport. Angel Burgueno was ninth fastest overall for Vergani, just ahead of fellow Spaniard Polo Villaamil. Villaamil's RC Motorsport team had a fright when a static electricity spark caused a fire in the pits, but although Villaamil's crash helmet was charred fortunately nobody was hurt.
Tomorrow's qualifying sessions should provide a different sort of explosive action, when the championship battle could reach melting point.
World Series Lights
The action in the World Series Lights category promises to be as competitive as ever at Barcelona this weekend. After his double success last time out in Austria, Epsilon by Graff's Julien Vidot continued his stunning form by setting the pace in two of the three practice sessions. His dominance was broken in the second session by Celso Miguez, who headed team-mate Juan Cruz Alvarez in a Meycom Reyco one-two.
However, with championship leader Adrian Valles (Escuela Lois Circuit), Mathias Lauda (Vergani Racing), Milos Pavlovic (Epsilon by Graff) and Pablo Donoso (Vergani Racing) all setting competitive times, Saturday's two qualifying sessions are set to be just as action-packed.
The Formula Junior category has some of the most talented young drivers in Europe among its ranks and this was reflected over the course of the three practice sessions, where just 1.5s separated the fastest 11 drivers. Championship leader, Spaniard Juan Antonio del Pino, set the pace in second practice, but it was Belgian Michael Herck who was the fastest driver of the day.
The Junior Racing Team star was only slightly quicker than Christian Cano in the opening session, but made a massive improvement to head the pack by 0.4s by the end of the day. Cano was again second fastest for RACC Motorsport and he'll be looking to make at least the front row in Saturday's qualifying sessions as he bids to improve on third place in the championship. Cibiemme Team's title contender, Giacomo Ricci - second in the standings - will have to improve from his current seventh if he is to defend his position.
SUPERFUND WORLD SERIES by NISSAN combined practice times
1. Ander Vilarino Epsilon Euskadi 1m33.604s
2. Franck Montagny Gabord Competicion 1m33.887s
3. Jean Christophe Ravier Epsilon Euskadi 1m34.100s
4. Narain Karthikeyan Tata Team Carlin 1m34.255s
5. Stephane Sarrazin Racing Engineering 1m34.480s
6. Bruno Besson Saulnier Racing 1m34.549s
7. Bruce Jouanny Carlin Motorsport 1m34.550s
8. Bas Leinders Racing Engineering 1m34.627s
9. Angel Burgueno Respol Racing for Spain Vergani 1m34.707s
10. Polo Villaamil 1m34.709s
11. Felix Porteiro KTR 1m34.846s
12. Enrique Bernoldi GD Racing 1m34.876s
13. Didier Andre Saulnier Racing 1m34.966s
14. Paul Edwards KTR 1m34.979s
15. Heikki Kovalainen Gabord Competicion 1m35.118s
16. Santiago Porteiro Adrian Campos Motorsport 1m35.970s
17. Norbert Seidler Superfund RC Motorsport 1m36.437s
18. Jose Marie Perez Aicart Adrian Campos Motorsport 1m36.977s