French dominate first session After two long collective test sessions, Nelson Panciatici (Boutsen Energy Racing) and Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport) recorded the day's best times. With only 14/1000ths between them, the two friends both set ...
French dominate first session
After two long collective test sessions, Nelson Panciatici (Boutsen Energy Racing) and Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport) recorded the day's best times. With only 14/1000ths between them, the two friends both set their times towards the end of the morning session. This afternoon, it was Monaco driver Stefano Coletti (Epsilon Red Bull) who took the honours.
Mathieu Arzeno wasted little time this morning in getting into his stride: with only fifteen minutes gone, the Provence-based driver was the first to clock a sub-1'40'' lap. After half an hour, Brendon Hartley (Epsilon Red Bull) put together an impressive run of laps to break through the 1'39'' mark. No apparent sign, then, that the Eurocup leader was suffering from a virus!
It took Nelson Panciatici a good twenty minutes or so to beat the New Zealander's time. The on-form Arzeno improved shortly afterwards, before then being overtaken again by Nelson! With a new set of tyres, the new driver for the Boutsen Energy Racing team hammered home his advantage at the end of the session with a time of 1'38''223, a record that would stand for the rest of the day!
Mathieu Arzeno held onto second, ahead of Brendon Hartley and Frank Kechele (Motopark Academy). The top five was completed by the excellent Nelson Lukes (Epsilon Sport), a regular podium finisher in the French championship.
In fact, Lukes was the first out onto the track in the afternoon. But with seven minutes gone, Panciatici was the first to dip under the 1'39'' mark. The RDD driver improved again to 1'38''431, a time that topped the timing screens for most of the afternoon.
But with half an hour of testing left, Stefano Coletti took advantage of the slightly cooler conditions to set the session's best time of 1'38''274.
A podium finisher at Zolder, Budapest and Donington, Nelson Panciatici is determined to grab his first race win this weekend. The Parisian could move up to second place overall in the Eurocup! Mathieu Arzeno has a different goal for the weekend. He sees this as a good opportunity to prepare for the French championship race. He currently lies in second place behind Jules Bianchi (SG Formula), who finished with the best time in the sessions restricted to drivers from the national championship.
Winner of a race in Hungry and twice on the podium in the UK, Coletti seems to be the man in form as the end of the season approaches: "I have to thank my mechanics, because I went off twice at the Imola chicane. I was only able to get back on the track at the end of this afternoon's session. We found a good setup today and we still have a good day's work ahead of us tomorrow. I'm hoping to grab my first pole on Saturday!"
Fourth-placed Frank Kechele is keen to put his disastrous Sunday at Donington behind him, where he caused quite a pile up in the main field: "I learned a lot from my mistake and I'm sure it won't happen again. I am focused on driving well and sensibly in both races this weekend."
Charles Pic was the third French driver to feature in the top five: "We worked very hard and I tried to improve my driving and my racing line through several corners. If everything goes well, I hope to win in front of my home fans!"