Tiago Monteiro looks ready to take the fight to Heikki Kovalainen in his home race of the World Series by Nissan at Estoril this weekend. Monteiro, who hails from Portugal's second city Porto, went fastest in today's practice at the track near Lisboa. The Carlin Motorsport driver was the only man to lap in less the 1m28s.
Kovalainen has not lost his touch, however, because the championship leader was still second fastest -- and he is still relatively new to the track, having only seen the Grand Prix venue for the first time last week. The Pons Racing man was fastest in the morning session, fourth in the afternoon and second overall.
Monteiro's team-mate had one of his best days yet, with the Frenchman recording third-best time of the day. Pla is still looking for his first win in the series, and could help Monteiro by taking points off Kovalainen. Monteiro himself is also overdue, having not won since a double at Zolder in April. Qualifying tomorrow will be the key in his bid to stop Kovalainen, who threatens to run away with the series. The Finn has won at least one race at each of the last three meetings.
Felix Porteiro was fourth for Porfesa Competicion, while Enrique Bernoldi was fifth for GD Racing. The Brazilian Bernoldi is settling back into life in a World Series car after returning from Formula 1 test duty with BAR-Honda, and will no doubt be able to produce more later in the weekend.
Celso Miguez took the quickest time in testing for the World Series Lights category. The top six all set their fastest times in the afternoon session, with Milos Pavlovic and Simon Abadie completing the top three. But while Pavlovic was within a tenth of Miguez, Abadie was over half a second behind the Spaniard.
<pre> World Series by Nissan private practice times
1 Tiago Monteiro (POR) Carlin Motorsport 1.27.939 2 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Pons Racing 0.329 3 Olivier Pla (FRA) Carlin Motorsport 0.578 4 Felix Porteiro (ESP) Porfesa Competicion 0.596 5 Enrique Bernoldi (BRA) GD Racing 0.687 6 Tristan Gommendy (FRA) Saulnier Racing 0.859 7 Sergio Hernandez (ESP) Saulnier Racing 0.925 8 Narain Kartikheyan (IND) RC Motorsport 0.991 9 Adrian Valles (ESP) Pons Racing 1.019 10 Juan Cruz Alvarez (ARG) Gabord Reyco 1.185