Jarama: Friday report

Bernoldi sets out his stall in the World Series by Nissan: Jarama free practice The 2004 World Series by Nissan season kicked off at Jarama today with Enrique Bernoldi a brooding presence at the head of the timesheets. The ex-Arrows Formula 1 ...

Bernoldi sets out his stall in the World Series by Nissan: Jarama free practice

The 2004 World Series by Nissan season kicked off at Jarama today with Enrique Bernoldi a brooding presence at the head of the timesheets. The ex-Arrows Formula 1 driver scorched around the track to record the fastest time in both of the 45-minutes sessions, serving notice of his intent to become the third winner of the prestigious title.

Bernoldi's GD Racing machine held only a tiny advantage in the first session, with Finn Heikki Kovalainen just 0.005s behind. But with most drivers running worn tyres in that session, the more meaningful times were recorded later in the afternoon. Again Bernoldi set the pace, but this time he was 0.259s up on his nearest challenger, the 2003 World Series Lights champion, Juan Cruz Alvarez.

"I'm a bit surprised to be so far ahead," Bernoldi admitted. "Hopefully I will be able to do that again tomorrow. I know I can go quicker as I lost a few tenths with some small mistakes during that lap."

Avarez did a great job in his first outing for the reconstructed Gabord Reyco team to be second quickest. His team- mate, Jordan Formula 1 refugee Ralph Firman Jr, was thrown right into the deep end courtesy of an 11th-hour call-up. His lack of knowledge of track and car proved a huge disadvantage, but he whittled down his lap times and although he ended the day slowest of the 19 cars, he was less that two seconds off the pace.

Epsilon Euskadi unveiled a new livery at Jarama thanks to a tie- in with the Cepsa fuel giant. With its new backers looking on, Jean Christophe Ravier gave the team something to cheer with the third fastest overall time. Kovalainen showed promise for the new Pons Racing team with fourth overall, while his young Spanish team-mate Adrian Valles was a distant 17th.

The other new teams had equally mixed fortunes. Felix Porteiro was an encouraging eighth for Porfesa Competicion, but Roldan Rodriguez struggled to end up 18th. Boris Derichbourg missed almost all of the opening session when his Paul Belmondo Racing entry lost a wheel in the pitlane, but recovered well to set the 12th fastest time. Japanese star Ryo Fukuda complained of brake problems and understeer in the sister car and wound up 16th.

The competitive World Series Lights category also began at Jarama with two free practice sessions. These were topped by promising French newcomer Mathieu Lahaye, who was fastest in first practice for Saulnier Racing and the experienced Yugoslav Milos Pavlovic, who is racing for the second year in the series with Vergani Formula.

Lahaye was quickest by just 0.057s from Epsilon Sport's Bastien Briere, with Pavlovic only 0.027s further back. In fact, just six tenths of a second covered the top six in the first session.

Pavlovic's advantage in second practice was 0.190s, with Briere again second best. Again there was little to separate the frontrunners and the series seems set for another closely fought championship.

-rpm-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Enrique Bernoldi , Ryo Fukuda , Heikki Kovalainen , Ralph Firman , Paul Belmondo , Bastien Brière , Adrian Valles , Felix Porteiro , Juan Cruz Alvarez , Milos Pavlovic , Matthieu Lahaye