Vergne on song!
The second day of collective testing on the Motorland Aragon circuit was marked by some strong performances. Jean-Eric Vergne (KMP Group/SG Formula), on only his second day behind the wheel of a Formula Renault 3.5, blew away the track record. He finished the day at the top of the timing charts, ahead of Mofaz Fortec Motorsport drivers, Greg Mansell and Jon Lancaster.
After a day partly devoted to the drivers invited by Renault Sport Technologies, collective testing continued through Wednesday on the new Motorland Aragon track. Early morning fog delayed the start of the session by an hour. While some of the drivers who competed this season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series were getting acquainted with new teams, such as Anton Nebilitskiy with Tech 1 Racing, Greg Mansell and Jon Lancaster with Mofaz Fortec Motorsport or Felipe Salaquarda driving with team RC Motorsport, some newcomers to the ranks of Formula Renault 3.5 Series were in evidence today.
Adrian Campos for instance was driving with International Draco Racing alongside Stephane Richelmi. Basil Shaaban (Prema Powerteam), Sergey Afanasiev (Carlin Motorsport), Roberto Merhi (Carlin Motorsport) and Jan Charouz (RC Motorsport) were also among the drivers out today.
With a partly wet track early on in the morning session, Greg Mansell was the first pace-setter ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa, driving with Tech 1 Racing. The two drivers each took several turns at the top of the timing charts, with interruptions by Jon Lancaster who wasn't going to be left out. Track conditions improved and lap times were bettered lap after lap. We saw Keisuke Kunimoto (Epsilon Euskadi) showing a turn of speed and hogging first place for several minutes, before Greg Mansell muscled his way back to the top. Then it was Jean-Eric Vergne who decided his time had come. The French driver took the lead with fresh tires first, with a lap time of 1'43''833, before going still quicker on new tires at the end of the session. With 1'43''366, he was ahead of Greg Mansell, Keisuke Kunimoto and Jon Lancaster, and proud owner of a new lap record.
For his first outing in the car, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Comtec Racing) also put in a creditable sixth best time. Much of the afternoon was punctuated by fierce competition between Jon Lancaster and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. The two British drivers kept swapping first place. Just behind, and before the new rubber came on, Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne were underlining their good form, while Stephane Richelmi (International Draco Racing) and Walter Grubmuler (P1 Motorsport) were starting to push.
Typically, the drivers waited for the last half-hour to to fit new tires. Jean-Eric Vergne continued his display and kept upping the pace. With a 1'43''230 lap, he beat his own record set in the morning. Today the Frenchman finished first ahead of Greg Mansell and Jon Lancaster. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Keisuke Kunimoto rounded up the top 5. A final day of collective testing will be held tomorrow, Thursday, with the much awaited arrival of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 winner, Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi).
Jean-Eric Vergne: "We managed a very good time this morning, with fresh tires. We put new tires on and went still better. I'm making better use of the new tires. We'd not changed anything on the car this afternoon, because the basic setup was very effective. Despite the traffic, I managed to get a quicker lap in. Physically, it really is more demanding than the FR 2.0. I'm very happy for the team. It shows the quality of their car. We'll try and do even better tomorrow-- One thing's for sure, I can't wait for next season!"
Greg Mansell: "The two days testing with Mofaz Fortec Motosport have gone very well. We've been very consistent and the performance has always been there. We put the new tires on tonight a bit too soon. It's a shame, I'd have liked to finish with the best time and it was within our grasp. For next season, we're hoping to drive in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series again with a good team."