Spa: Series Thursday test report

Giedo leader of the gang again Barely a week after the season's first meeting at Monza, the thirteen Formula Renault 3.5 Series teams returned to action at Spa-Francorchamps. Six hours of collective testing were enough for Giedo Van der Garde ...

Giedo leader of the gang again

Barely a week after the season's first meeting at Monza, the thirteen Formula Renault 3.5 Series teams returned to action at Spa-Francorchamps. Six hours of collective testing were enough for Giedo Van der Garde (P1 Motorsport) to show what he is capable of once again.

This was the first appearance of the new Formula Renault 3.5 cars on the Spa-Francorchamps track. Six hours of collective testing were scheduled, enabling all the teams the chance to prepare calmly for the weekend's two races.

The day's testing got underway in dry conditions. Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) set the first time of any note. For the first half hour, times improved with almost every lap completed. Giedo Van der Garde took top spot, but was quickly challenged by Bertrand Baguette. The Belgian driver took control with a time of 2'04''610. Once again, however, Giedo Van der Garde produced the goods to set the fastest time with a lap of 2'04''276. As the session drew to a close, the Dutch driver improved his performance to 2'03''664, before the rain signalled it was time for everyone to break for lunch. Bertrand Baguette was second, just ahead of Marco Bonanomi (Red Devil Team Comtec).

The track was still dry as the afternoon session got underway. Miguel Molina (Prema Powerteam) set the leading time at the start of the session. "We put on new tyres at the start of the session so we could collect data on how they worked in these conditions. We have a good set-up which means we should be there or thereabouts, but the car can still be improved", commented the Prema Powerteam driver.

Bertrand Baguette then grabbed top spot. Despite being at home, the Belgian driver was unable put together a long run. "I had gearshift problems again, like in Monza. We are competitive, we're right there on lap times, but I really hope we will be able to correct this problem quickly."

It was then Marco Bonanomi's turn to go top, improving the overall best time set by Van der Garde in the morning. "With six hours of testing, we had loads of time to improve the car. We tried out different set-ups to get the right balance. This seven-kilometre track really does throw up every challenge going. There are quick sections and technical sections: it's an interesting circuit. I really hope I can make up some ground, after a tough weekend in Monza."

After a making quiet start to the afternoon session, focussing on improving the handling of his Formula Renault 3.5, Giedo Van der Garde then took back the lead with a time of 2'02''886, before the heavens opened again. The rain interrupted everyone's work with an hour of the session left, just as several drivers were getting ready to put on new tyres. "It was a good time, quicker than last year's pole position", recalled the championship leader. "But there's another 1 hr 30 of collective testing tomorrow, which leaves everyone plenty of time to improve. I am around 200 kilometres from home here, so this is almost like a home race for me! I hope things will go just as well in Monza."

So, Giedo Van der Garde ended the test with the day's best performance, ahead of Marco Bonanomi, Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com Racing Team), Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) and Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing). Friday's scheduled features two further collective test sessions and qualifying will be held on Saturday morning.

-credit: wsbyrenault.com

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Marco Bonanomi , Salvador Duran , Marcos Martinez , Robert Wickens , Bertrand Baguette
Teams Carlin