Andy Soucek back with a blast

The last Formula Renault 3.5 collective test sessions in 2008 are being held in Valencia over the next two days. Invited by RC Motorsport to work on the handling of the Italian team's race car, Andy Soucek (RC Motorsport), who finished fourth in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2006, turned back the clock as he recorded the day's best time.

Many drivers were getting their first taste of Formula Renault 3.5 Series today, such as Edoardo Mortara (Ultimate Signature), 2008 F3 Euro Series runner-up, Rodolfo Gonzalez (Prema Powerteam), Stefano Coletti (RC Motorsport) and Tobias Hegewald ( Racing), fifth in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and runner-up in the Formula Renault 2.0 North European Cup this season.

It was cold and the track was wet as the drivers took to the track this morning. Almost an hour had gone before Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing) was the first to put on slick tyres. The Spaniard's decision turned out to be right one, as he took the best time by some distance with 1'27''862.

Claudio Cantelli (International Draco Racing), Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) and Marcos Martinez then took turns at the top of the timing screens. As is often the case, the final standings weren't decided until the dying minutes of the session. Just as the chequered flag brought the morning session to a close, James Walker (P1 Motorsport), with a time of 1'22.319, grabbed top spot held at that point by Charles Pic (Tech 1 Motorsport). Pushed back to second place, the Frenchman remained ahead of Spaniards Andy Soucek and Miguel Molina (KTR).

The second session went very much the same way as the first. Jaime Alguersuari and Marcos Martinez took turns to hold top spot during the majority of the afternoon. Going into the last hour, fresh tyres were put on and the more experienced drivers came to the fore. Marco Barba (International Draco Racing) and Miguel Molina took it in turns at the top of the timing screens.

Andy Soucek then upped the pace as the session drew to a close. The Spaniard produced the day's best performance, with a time of 1'21''642. He finished ahead of Miguel Molina, Marco Barba, Charles Pic and Edoardo Mortara, the day's top rookie.

Quote, unquote:

Andy Soucek: "I am very happy to be able to help out my friends at RC Motorsport. We worked well on the car. It is certainly running well! The car is quick and fun to drive. It's perfect!"

Edoardo Mortara: "This race car is bigger and more powerful than an F3, but I got to grips with it very quickly. My aim during the two days of testing with Ultimate Signature is to improve in each session. We'll decide later about the programme for the 2009 season."

Rodolfo Gonzalez: "The downforce of the car is really impressive. I am still getting used to the carbon fibre brakes. I have been following the FR 3.5 Series with a keen interest for the last few years. After taking part in the British F3 championship and then in F3 Euro Series, this championship appears to be the next logical step in my career."

Max Chilton: "What a great car! I feel very relaxed behind the wheel. I have been impressed by the quality of the line-up. It's also nice to meet up with my mates from the British F3 championship, Oliver Turvey and Jaime Alguersuari!"