Wickens knows the score
For the first time this season, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) is racing on a track that he knows like the back of his hand. He is using that to his advantage since he turned in the best performance during collective testing. The Canadian finished ahead of Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) and Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature).
The 25 competitors were out on the track for two 45-minute sessions scheduled today. Having taken part in races at Silverstone and Budapest, Duncan Tappy (RC Motorsport) made his comeback in the category.
Bertrand Baguette set the pace. The Belgian led from the start and improved his time lap on lap. With a time of 1'27''426, he was ahead of Miguel Molina (Prema Powerteam) and Fairuz Fauzy (Fortec Motorsport) within the first fifteen minutes of the session.
Behind Baguette there were changes in the race order. Fabio Carbone and his teammate Esteban Guerrieri (Ultimate Signature) battled for second position, whilst Giedo Van der Garde (P1 Motorsport) and Robert Wickens made up the top five.
The positions continued to change as the session drew to a close. With Baguette in the lead and Van der Garde in fourth place, it was Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) and Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) heading for second and third place respectively. However, right at the chequered flag Miguel Molina shook up the standings and finished second behind Bertrand Baguette.
"Straight away our car proved to be perfect", explained the Belgian driver. "On the first run I was the first to be surprised by the time and the gap between the others. This is only the first session, so there's still plenty of room for changes."
In the afternoon, Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing) then Robert Wickens each took turns in first place. The session was rapidly interrupted as Marco Bonanomi (Red Devil Team Comtec) crashed off the track.
When the action resumed, Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com Racing) and Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature) managed to beat the fastest lap set that morning by Bertrand Baguette. Baguette didn't waste any time in hitting back, taking the top spot once again with a lap time of 1'27''064. He was joined by Robert Wickens who achieved exactly the same time!
The Canadian maintained his good form and improved his performance just seconds before the end of the session. He ended the session with the day's best performance in 1'26''996. "When my engineer told me over the radio that I clocked the same time as Baguette; I did another lap! Even though it is very rare to achieve the identical times in motorsport, I would have preferred to have been alone at the top!" explained Wickens. "This is the first time this season I know the track as it was here that I started off in Formula Renault 3.5 last season. It gave me the chance to work on the qualifying setups. I've learnt a lot this season. I'm aiming to win at least one more race before the end of the year".
Although this is the sixth time the leader of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Giedo Van der Garde has taken part in these collective testing sessions, his aim is to stay focused on this weekend's main objective: the title. "I need to start this weekend just like any other, without putting myself under anymore pressure," explains the P1 Motorsport driver. "Today the pack got ahead of me. I put on a set of fresh tyres at the end of the session but I didn't manage a fast lap. I definitely could have done better than sixth place even though we still have a little way to go performance-wise".