Challengers come to the fore
Drawing on all the experience they have accumulated over their three days of testing here at the Paul Ricard HTTT, the challengers came to the fore today. Daniil Move (Tech 1 Racing) took the best time of the morning session, while Michael Herck (Prema Powerteam) was the quickest driver on show this afternoon.
This third day of testing saw further changes to the driver line-up. Miguel Molina turned out for Prema Powerteam, Marco Romancini and Daniil Move for Tech 1 Racing, Valtteri Bottas for Epsilon Euskadi, and Marco Bonanomi for Interwetten.com. And there were emotional scenes for Draco Racing, as the Morinis entrusted one of their Formula Renault 3.5 cars to Fabrice Walfisch, who raced for the Italian team in F300 back in 1999.
This morning, Dani Clos (Espilon Euskadi) was the first driver to dip below the 1'16'' mark. A few minutes later, Edoardo Piscopo (Fortec Motorsport) snatched the lead.
With half an hour to go, the action really heated up when the drivers put on their second set of tyres. Between the red flags caused by Xavier Maasen (Fortec Motorsport) and Pasquale di Sabatino (Red Devil Comtec), Daniil Move managed to get in a lap timed at 1'15''757.
The weather was just as clement for the final session. An hour in, Michael Herck (Prema Powerteam) took the lead. The session was then interrupted for the first time, with Marcello Puglisi (Cram Competition) the culprit. When the action resumed, Piscopo took the lead with a time of 1'16''151, but a succession of red flags followed as, lap after lap, Puglisi, Sabatino and Perez (Interwetten.com) brought the proceedings to a halt.
With forty minutes remaining, Herck again showed that he is a force to be reckoned with, with a time of 1'15''579. Aleix Alcaraz (Pons Racing) was able to slip in between Herck and Piscopo, but second place eventually went to Miguel Molina.
What they said...
Michael Herck (Prema Powerteam): "I'm happy with the days I've had here with the Pons and Prema teams. Test sessions aren't races, but it's important to show what you're capable of. I feel like I've learnt more in three days of testing than in a whole season of racing. I'll be at Valencia for the next session!"
Daniil Move (Tech 1 Racing): "The team has helped me to improve and I'm glad to know that I can perform well in this car. I made a mistake with my new tyres this afternoon, which was a pity because I could easily have got down to 1'15''4."
Aleix Alcaraz (Pons Racing): "In two days, I've learnt what the transition from Formula Renault 2.0 to the 3.5 is all about. I came here to learn and I've made a lot of progress. The hardest thing is making the most of your fresh set of tyres."
Pippa Mann (Cram Competition): "We found a setup that suited me. I tried to get my quickest time in early in the session because I knew things would get tricky later on with the usual red flags!"
Johnny Ceccotto (RC Motorsport): "Physically, these three days have been pretty demanding. But I've got used to driving the Formula Renault 3.5. My sponsors and I are doing everything we can to get into this championship, which has the whole package: entertainment, great crowds and a really fast car."