Charles Pic gets the ball rolling
The Jerez circuit welcomes the competitors in Formula Renault 3.5 Series for two days for the first Collective Testing sessions of the season. A chance for each of them to test the car in its 2009 aerodynamic configuration for the first time.
The sun was shining on Jerez for the first day of Collective Testing in this season of Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Eighteen competitors were present for two days of testing. The Tech 1 Racing, USR, Prema Powerteam and Carlin Motorsport teams had already been out on the track the day before, taking advantage of the two hours of testing authorized per year on a circuit not featured in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series calendar.
Miguel Molina (USR), Jaime Alguesuari (Carlin Motorsport) and then Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) were the first to take the lead. Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) wasted no time however in getting himself notices when he claimed the provisional fastest lap. The Frenchman, supported this season by Renault Driver Development, ended the first hour of testing on top, ahead of Oliver Turvey, Jaime Alguesuarin Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) and Miguel Molina.
Miguel Molina then began to push the pace to take control of the session with a time of 1'30"029. The Spanish USR team driver showed he meant business for his third season in the discipline. His experience will be a major advantage for the USR team as well as for teammate Greg Mansell. Having spent time with Molina, the son of 1992 Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell, was quick to get to grips with Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Towards the end of the first hour of the morning session, the drivers returned to the pits to fit new tyres. With a lap of 1'29"859, Charles Pic reclaimed top spot, to move ahead of Miguel Molina and James Walker (P1 Motorsport). The stars of the previous season were there! The 2005 runner-up Adrian Valles, called in by the Epsilon Euskadi team to tryout their car, was also on the pace with the fourth fastest lap. Fifth, Jaime Alguesuari was the fastest rookie.
The afternoon was intensive. James walker put in a number of fast times during a long series of laps. The temperature continued to rise in Jerez, and it became impossible to repeat the times set during the morning. Every driver applied himself to fine-tuning the race settings of the new aerodynamic configuration. The two International Draco Racing drivers, Bertrand Baguette and Marco Barba, were the only drivers to have fitted fresh tyres at the end of the session. They set the two fastest times of the afternoon, but Charles Pic retained the fastest performance of the day.
Miguel Molina: "This year, I'm here to win! A few days ago, I didn't have a drive. In this time of economic crisis, I need to put in a strong season to say thank you to my partners. I feel very at home in the USR team. It's a very professional outfit. Everything is in place for me to do well."
James Walker: "I'm really comfortable at P1 Motorsport. We were already fast at Paul Ricard HTTT at the end of 2008 and we were on the pace again today. We're very happy with the new aerodynamics of the FR 3.5. The aim now is to get the measure of the car in this configuration. This is very positive."
Jaime Alguersuari: "This is a new car for me, so I'm working hard to learn as fast as possible. I'm feeling very relaxed with the new team engineer James Robinson who has a lot of experience, particularly in F1."