Gone with the wind!
The thirteen teams taking part in this year's Formula Renault 3.5 were very much looking forward to these first collective tests in Valencia, in order to make an initial assessment of the new Formula Renault 3.5 race car. However, the violent winds that are currently blowing on the east coast of Spain seriously disrupted this first day of testing. After the paddock suffered substantial damage, testing was interrupted shortly before midday. Tomorrow -- Wednesday -- the Formula Renault 3.5 championship competitors will have an uninterrupted day of testing from 9am to 6pm.
What should have been a day full of useful information at the first session of collective testing of the 2008 version of the Formula Renault 3.5, ended up as a fight against the elements. The strong wind tore off the frame of the 'Club F1' structure of the Valencia track, which then landed in the paddock, causing some substantial damage in the process. The drivers only had time to complete a few warm-up laps before the session was interrupted.
In the limited time available it was Belgian driver Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) who set the best time right at the start of the session, with a lap timed at 1''25'569, ahead of Roldan Rodriguez (RC Motorsport) and Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing).
Weather conditions are due to improve on Wednesday morning. The Organizing Committee has therefore decided to give drivers an uninterrupted day of testing from 9am to 6pm.
Behind the scenes, the final drives have been taken. Following on from Fabio Carbone, another Brazilian has just signed up for Ultimate Signature: Claudio Cantelli Jr.
It is worth noting that some teams are assessing drivers before officially announcing their driver line-up for 2008. Johnny Reid (New Zealand), who recently distinguished himself in A1 GP, is counting on these tests to earn himself a drive. He will be racing tomorrow with the Fortec Motorsport team.
At RC Motorsport, Roldan Rodriguez will hand over to Borja Garcia tomorrow. The Spaniard is 98% sure of signing for the Italian team.
Pippa Mann (P1 Motorsport): "I only managed to complete a few laps because of a problem with the battery this morning. I lost time during the first part of the session. I don't feel very comfortable in the car. I have to add padding behind my helmet so that I can drive Guido's car. Fortunately, I am going to benefit from a few hours of track time thanks to Roly (Vincini)!"
Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing): "I had a bit of close thing this morning when a steel bar came through the side of our truck! On the track, I only managed to complete eight laps. I felt comfortable in the car very quickly. Tomorrow, I hand over to Maxi Cortes in the morning and I will be driving in the afternoon."
Mario Romancini (Epsilon Euskadi): "I had the usual problems you encounter when getting into a new car for the first time. We started the session pretty late and when I came back into the pits, I saw that the structure of the terrace had collapsed! I will be sharing the car tomorrow with my team-mate Alexandre Marsoin. As a rookie, every kilometre covered is useful as all the tracks are new to me. I have just moved to Barcelona -- I love the city!"