Pic brings an era to a close!
After three years of loyal and valued service, the Formula Renault 3.5s finally bowed out in style here in Valencia. Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) made his own mark on history by setting the fastest time on this third day of collective testing. We can now start to turn our attention to the 2008 season!
Notable changes to the list of entrants for this final day were the return of Mikhail Aleshin for Carlin Motorsport, James Walker joining Red Devil Comtec, Yelmer Buurman going to Prema Powerteam, Michael Herck at Pons Racing and Daniil Move with Cram Competition. Two rookies were also there to get their first (and last?) experience of the FR3.5: the British driver Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport) and the Colombian Julian Leal (Interwetten.com).
The sun came out once again for the morning session. After at least an hour of track time, Aleshin managed to set an excellent time (1'21''808) despite running a high fever. Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing), who had been looking very sharp since the start of the session, soon hit back by setting a new fastest time of 1'21''677. Marco Bonanomi (Red Devil Comtec) then took his turn to go one better, but Pic finally regained the upper hand with a lap in 1'21''391.
Once again, the track proved to be not as quick after the break for lunch. At 14:45, Buurman went to the top of the timing screens with a lap in 1'22''133. Three-quarters of an hour later, Aleshin came that little bit closer to the 1'22'' mark. The leading contenders for the fastest time then waited until the final hour of the session before switching to fresh rubber. Guillaume Moreau (KTR) soon set an excellent time of 1'21''614. Then, Bonanomi, Jousse, Pic, Molina and Baguette all took it in turns to improve on the Frenchman's fastest lap. Even Moreau wasn't able to do any better on his second set of new tyres! It was Charles Pic who finally finished second in this last session ahead of Baguette, Bonanomi and Molina.
It is also worth noting that several drivers had their times disallowed for non-compliant weight (Herck, Move) and failure to observe the course route (M. Barba, Bonanomi).
Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing): "I set my fastest time fairly early on this morning. The track was clearly faster than it was yesterday. I've made some useful progress on my driving technique. We are now going to work on that to analyze and understand the data that we have collected over the last three days."
Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport): "I'm delighted to have set the 2nd fastest time overall for the three days testing. This gives us an idea of what we can achieve with Carlin next year, even if the car will be different."
Guillaume Moreau (KTR): "We have significantly improved the settings on the car today. I had two sets of fresh tyres at my disposal this afternoon. The first run went well, but I'm sure I could have gone 2/10ths better if it hadn't been for the yellow flags."
Miguel Molina (Prema Powerteam): "We've made some good progress with the car, but it wasn't possible to improve on the fastest time in the afternoon."
Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport): "Even though I've taken part in the last two meetings I still feel a bit of a rookie. I was getting a lot of oversteer and I wasn't able to make the most of my new tyres. Still, I feel I've made good progress here."
Yelmer Buurman (Prema Powerteam): "Recently, I've been testing in GP2, F3 and FTM. So, understandably, I had a little trouble getting back to grips with the Formula Renault 3.5!"
Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport): "I was ready for the power, but was quite surprised by the braking. I made a few mistakes but I really enjoyed it. In 2008, I'll be looking more towards a drive in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, which would allow me to become familiar with the international circuits."