Magny-Cours: Friday practice report

Business as usual for Aleshin The collective testing specialist Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) clocked the best time at Magny-Cours today. After a quiet time of things in the last few races, Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering) ...

Business as usual for Aleshin

The collective testing specialist Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) clocked the best time at Magny-Cours today. After a quiet time of things in the last few races, Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering) and Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) were also back to their best form.

With only two 45-minute test sessions, the teams and drivers had little time to adapt their setups to the Nevers circuit. Championship leader Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing), who could only manage the 16th fastest time, emphasized how different today's conditions were from those encountered in the collective test session back in April: "The track has changed. We didn't gauge the grip quite right and we were lapping two seconds slower. We've had a tough day but I hope the team will find the right setup for qualifying."

Fairuz Fauzy (Cram Competition), Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com), Bertrand Baguette (KTR) and Miguel Molina (Pons Racing) got things going this morning. But three minutes from the chequered flag, Mikhail Aleshin had the final word, with a lap timed at 1'26''563.

With a higher air temperature, the times got no better in the afternoon session. Giedo van der Garde took the fastest time, but his effort was two tenths of a second slower than Aleshin. Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam), Guillaume Moreau (KTR) and Filipe Albuquerque (Epsilon Euskadi) were also there or thereabouts.

Having more than once had a disappointing weekend after good performances in collective testing, Mikhail Aleshin is remaining cautious: "I say it every time, these are just tests. We did some good work today, but the most important thing is qualifying tomorrow morning."

For Van der Garde, today marked a return to the fore after a disastrous weekend at Donington: "I'm very happy because I've had a few tough races. I live close to the team now, so I can spend as much time as possible on my preparations. We did well today. We're up against it, but we've now got a car that can compete for the top places." Ben Hanley, another driver who had a disappointing weekend in England, is equally optimistic: "Things are looking good. I've been getting close to my first win over the last few races and we know that the results are largely determined by what happens in qualifying, so that's what we've focussed on."

The top five was completed by Miguel Molina, who has all the experience of Pons Racing to support him: the Catalan team won here in 2004 with Heikki Kovalainen. "We did some good work this morning on old tyres and carried it on this afternoon on new tyres. The team has an excellent record here and I think we can get a good result."

Championship newcomer Esteban Guerrieri (Fortec Motorsport) -- a replacement for Richard Philippe, who is still hampered by the broken finger he suffered at Spa -- is already mixing it with the top 10. "This is a good opportunity for me to compete in a high-profile competition. I haven't driven such a powerful car for a long time and it took me a while to get used to the carbon brakes," said the former Eurocup Formula Renault winner from Argentina.

-credit: wsbyrenault.com

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Heikki Kovalainen , Giedo van der Garde , Fairuz Fauzy , Salvador Duran , Alvaro Parente , Richard Philippe , Bertrand Baguette , Mikhail Aleshin , Davide Valsecchi , Filipe Albuquerque , Guillaume Moreau , Esteban Guerrieri , Miguel Molina , Ben Hanley
Teams Carlin