Van der Garde takes best time

The World Series teams are in Valencia for three days of testing with their Formula Renault 3.5 cars. In his first outing with Cram Competition, Giedo van der Garde clocked the fastest time of the first day.

The Draco Racing team had already travelled to the Valencia region last Saturday, when its two single-seaters put on a show in the streets of Sagunto. The yellow Formula Renault 3.5 cars, driven by Alvaro and Marco Barba, delighted the assembled spectators.

This morning, though, it was back down to serious business in the paddock. Having officially confirmed at a press conference in Brussels that he will race with Draco in the 2008 championship, Bertrand Baguette took the wheel of one of their cars. The Belgian youngster will team up with Marco Barba in 2008: "I think this team was the best choice to help me challenge for the title," he said. "I've already developed an excellent relationship with my engineer, Andrea Tesi."

For once, not one red flag came out in the morning session. In the closing minutes, Giedo van der Garde (Cram Competition) and Michael Herck (Prema Powerteam) set off in pursuit of the fastest time. The Dutchman finally edged it with a lap timed at 1'22''052, just short of the best time from 2006, set by Miguel Molina (1'21''954).

When the action resumed in the afternoon, the temperature was in excess of 20. At 3pm, Indian driver Parthiva Sureshwaren (Victory Engineering) caused the red flag to be brought out for the first time. Alvaro Barba (KTR) was already leading when he bettered his time just before the customary tyre change. The elder of the Barba brothers then carried on his good work, but his time was discounted as his car came in under the minimum weight. Michael Herck ultimately took the best time of the afternoon, while Van der Garde's earlier effort remained the fastest lap of the day overall.

Giedo van der Garde (Cram Competition): "Everything went well with the team. We made a good job of things this morning and no-one was able to beat our time. This afternoon I had a minor technical problem, but it was sorted out by the end of the day. I hope to carry on in the same vein tomorrow."

Michael Herck (Prema Powerteam): "My aim was to dip under 1'22'': I didn't quite manage it but I wasn't far off! I was hindered slightly by the red flags in the afternoon. My Italian is getting better the more time I spend with the team, and I'm even going to take some exams in it!"

Alvaro Barba (KTR): <

Alexandre Marsoin (KTR): "The red flag came out just as I was setting off on my new tyres. The day went really well with the team. They are very professional. I'd very much like to compete in the championship with them."

Duncan Tappy (Red Devil Comtec): "This car is wonderful! Physically, it's demanding, and technically, there's a lot to take in. So it's even more satisfying when you find the right setup. The biggest challenge is getting to grips with the carbon brakes. I think I've made a lot of progress."

Parthiva Sureshwaren (Victory Engineering): "I made a few mistakes but I 'm still getting used to the car. It's got phenomenal grip and terrific brakes. It's nothing like a Formula Renault V6, or even an A1 GP single-seater. I'm hoping to take part in the championship in 2008."