Andre Couto - The fastest at the first contact of the Telefonica World Series by Nissan in Brasil.
Zonta, Montagny and Wilson, followed the steps of the Macao driver.
Jaime Melo and Paul Edwards had very nice start in the Series, finishing 8th and 9th.
Curitiba, 29 November 2002 - Andre Couto (Vergani Racing) set the pace in the first practice day and came out on top at the end of the three free practice sessions at the Autódromo Internacional do Curitiba (Brazil) that holds the 8th round of the Telefónica World Series by Nissan.
Couto lapped a surprising 1.09.772 (191.269 km/h), commanding the main part of the session. . The Belgian driver Bas Leinders, fighting for the vice-championship with Montagny, could only achieve the 7th best register. All-ten first drivers were packed in just one second, showing the equality between the drivers of the Series here at the Brazilian track.
The free practice sessions had been the first contact of almost all-20 drivers that will race next Sunday. There is an exception: Ricardo Zonta is the local star (he was born in Curitiba 26 years ago). Four Brazilian drivers join the first champion of the Telefónica World Series by Nissan: his team-mate Tuka Rocha, Rodrigo Sperafico, Wagner Ibrahim and Jaime Melo. There are also two rookies: Milka Duno and the USA Paul Edwards, who has had a good debut.
Andre Couto took the lead in front of the first drivers currently occupying the top positions in the overall stands: this track has proved to be very fast, I'm used to it, like when racing goes on in Asia", stated the Macao driver. Ricardo Zonta achieved the second best register today, followed by the Racing Engineering drivers, Franck Montagny and Justin Wilson. The Indian ace Kartikheyan finished fifth.
Good debut for the US driver from the Red Bull F1 Drivers Search, Paul Edwards, who has made his first appearance in the World Series racing for the Belgium squad, KTR: "It has been a great experience. After some months without any racing, the feeling with this car has been excellent. My neck hurts a little, it's quite demanding."
Jaime Melo, the former EuroF3000 Champ, has also made a successful debut today, finishing 8th.
Two Qualifying sessions will take place tomorrow to establish Sunday's grids. 1st session Local time: from 11:15 to 11:45 and 2nd session from 14:30 to 15:00 hours.
<pre> World Series Free Practice (Scratch) 1. Andre Couto (MAC) Vergani Racing 1:09.772 2. Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Gabord Competición 1:09.884 / 0.112 3. Franck Montagny (FRA) Racing Engineering 1:09.910 / 0.138 4. Justin Wilson (GBR) Racing Engineering 1:10.268 / 0.496 5. Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Tata RC Motorsport 1:10.402 / 0.630 6. Polo Villaamil (SPA) Adrián Campos Motors. 1:10.502 / 0.730 7. Bas Leinders (BEL) KTR 1:10.662 / 0.850 8. Jaime Melo (BRA) Zele Motorsport 1:10.631 / 0.859 9. Paul Edwards (USA) KTR 1:10.736 / 0.964 10. Tuka Rocha (BRA) Gabord Competición 1:10.759 / 0.987 11. Ander Vilariño (SPA) Epsilon by Graff 1:10.777 / 1.005 12. Rodrigo Sperafico (BRA) Repsol Meycom 1:11.090 / 1.318 13. Wagner Ibrahim (BRA) GD Racing 1:11.105 / 1.333 14. Peter Sundberg (SUE) Tata RC Motorsport 1:11.134 / 1.362 15. Roberto González (MEX) GD Racing 1:11.418 / 1.646