Pons Racing and Barba lead the way
Michael Ammermuller was on top of the monitors at the mini-test held at the Paul Ricard track dedicated to 14 top drivers, mostly from Formula Renault 2.0 Championships. Spanish driver Alvaro Barba also demonstrated that he was in great form during the first day of action for the World Series Teams.
First out onto the track this morning were the fourteen drivers representing the eleven different Renault Championships: Eurocup Megane Trophy, Eurocup Formula Renault, Formula Renault 2.0 (Germany, Switzerland, UK, Italy, France, The Netherlands and the Nordic series) and Formula Renault 1.6 (Belgium). As reward for their achievements in the 2005 season they were invited to test the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 car. The Taiwanese driver from Eurointernational did not take part in the test.
Over an hour and a half of track time, most of them completed at least 20 laps. The sunny conditions helped the drivers, many of them experiencing their first drive in a FR3.5 car. However, it was not the first contact for the two drivers at the top of the timesheets after part one of the test: Michael Ammermuller, second in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, and Filipe Albuquerque, 3rd in the German FR2.0 Championship. Jan Heylen, the winner of the Eurocup Megane Trophy, demonstrated that he was in great form on his return to single-seater racing!
Some of the fourteen drivers would remain on the track as they were joined by the rest of the drivers. Colin Fleming, in a Carlin Motorsport car, was the quickest driver at the end of the morning session, followed by Italian driver Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi). Portuguese driver Filipe Albuquerque put in an impressive drive to complete the top 3 positions.
The lap times dropped constantly during the afternoon session, as drivers took advantage of the closing hours of the session to put on some fresh tyres.
Former F3 driver Alvaro Barba seemed to have found a good set-up, as he was in command for the whole session. His best lap, timed at 1'15"058, headed a list of 13 drivers separated by less than a second!
Colin Fleming keep up his good performance from the morning, finishing second overall on this first day, leaving third position to British driver Benjamin Hanley, who had clearly progressed by the end of the day.
Jaap Van Lagen (Comtec Racing), Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA), Giedo Van de Garde (Pons Racing) and Bertrand Baguette joined the session. Within just a few hours Van Lagen had managed to climb up to 4th position!
Patrick Pilet was again behind the wheel of the GD Racing car and although he was not in Valencia the Frenchman looked to be in great form, finishing in the top 8.
We also saw some new faces behind the wheel of the World Series cars today: Swiss-Italian driver Simona de Silvestro (Victory Engineering), Japanese driver Hiroyuki Maatsumura (Jenzer Motorsport) and British driver Edwin Jowsey (Dams).