Ricciardo all set for winter
Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing) is already assured of competing in Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2010 with Simon Abadie's team. The Australian turned heads today at the Barcelona circuit by recording the best performance of the last two days of collective testing of 2009. The rookies were having all the fun again, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing ahead of Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) and Daniel Zampieri (Comtec Racing), the best performer of the afternoon session.
The Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers continued testing throughout Wednesday here in Barcelona, taking advantage of the final day of collective testing of 2009. A few overnight changes were in evidence. Sten Pentus had joined the ranks of Prema Powerteam, alongside Julian Leal. Spanish driver Victor Garcia lined up in International Draco Racing colours. Greg Mansell and Federico Leo were installed behind the wheels of Mofaz Fortec Motorsport cars this morning, while Nathanael Berthon and Anton Nebylitskiy were with KMP Group / SG Formula and RC Motorsport respectively.
Margot Laffite, one of the participants in Eurocup Megane Trophy this season, was to be seen discovering Formula Renault 3.5 for the first time with a full-scale trial set up especially for a French TV channel. As the morning session got started, it was Daniel Ricciardo and Albert Costa who showed the first turns of pace. The two drivers underlined the excellent form shown by the rookies during these collective testing sessions.
The Tech 1 Racing and Epsilon Euskadi drivers took turns to top the timing charts in the early laps. The two Pons Racing single-seaters, with Michele Faccin and Neslon Panciatici at the wheel, were also on the pace in the first half hour. James Walker (P1 Motorsport) proceeded to mix it up with the rookies, just to demonstrate that experience can have its uses! With a lap clocked in a time of 1'35''384, he took over the top spot. Daniel Ricciardo and Albert Costa weren't having any of it though and grabbed the leadership back.
After the first hour of the session, the P1 Motorsport team upped the stakes again. Walter Grubmuller then James Walker went to the top of the timing charts. With the weather glorious and the track fast, Albert Costa now took the advantage, improving on Tuesday's reference time set by Jean-Eric Vergne, and recording a lap time of 1'34''157.
It was Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, British Formula 3 champion in 2009, who was to come out of the morning's session on top. He set a provisional fastest lap time of 1'34''092, before the new tires came out at the end of the session. And it was Ricciardo again who took advantage of the new rubber, improving on consecutive laps and -with a final flying lap in 1'33''574- claiming first place as the chequered flag came out. He finished the morning ahead of Albert Costa, Nathanael Berthon, James Walker and Jean-Eric Vergne.
In the afternoon, the drivers were out on track as soon as the green light came on. Daniel Zampieri went to the top of the timing chart with a time of 1'34''340, ahead of Albert Costa and Greg Mansell. We had to wait for almost an hour before things hotted up again.
It was Jean-Eric Vergne who launched the first salvo, shoot into third position. Albert Costa took his turn to charge, but stayed second. Unfortunately, ten minutes before the end of the session, the drivers were thwarted in their ambitions by a red flag, brought out after Sergey Afanasiev (Carlin Motorsport) and then Sten Pentus span out. The session did not restart. Daniel Zampieri claimed the best time of the afternoon, ahead of Albert Costa, Jean-Eric Vergne, Greg Mansell and Nathanael Berthon.
Daniel Ricciardo: "I think we could have improved at the end of the session, but the red flag caught us all out. I'm going to spend some time back in Australia now... It's not easy not seeing my family all year! It's winter soon for you; for me it's the start of summer...".
Daniel Zampieri: "This morning the conditions were better to do a good time, but unfortunately I made a mistake. I had a great time aboard the Formula Renault 3.5. The braking, the power, the engine, the chassis; it all works very well and I had very good sensations with this car."
Walter Grubmuller: "I still need to get a lot of miles under my belt to get really familiar with this car, but everything is going well. It's great to team with an experienced driver like James Walker. We get on very well and he gives me some precious advice."