Rising Australian single-seater racer Will Power continued to rack up the air miles, flying back to Europe just days after arriving home in Australia from his successful Minardi F1 test to take part in the first World Series by Renault group test at Paul Ricard.
Although the test didn't feature the new bespoke World Series chassis, it was designed to give competing teams - culled from the Nissan World Series and Formula Renault v6 series - a chance to evaluate potential pilots for 2005. Power's call came from Draco Racing, the Italian-based Euro F3000 champion, which invited him to sample one of partner AFC's FRV6 cars.
Power had run briefly with Draco prior to his F1 test at Misano, albeit in a Euro 3000 machine, and, despite only running on the first afternoon of the three-day group test, completed more than 40 laps and posted the second fastest time of the day, just a tenth off the top of the timesheet.
The F3 frontrunner quickly developed a liking for both the car and the Paul Ricard track and, by lap 13, had reeled off the fastest time for the Draco team. Despite his lack of familiarity with the circuit, he continued to impress, dipping into the 1min 18secs bracket before a new tyre run enabled him to improve his time to 1min 18.206secs. Even at the end of the three days, which featured changing track conditions, Power's time was still sufficient to place him seventh fastest, much to the satisfaction of Draco Racing and AFC.
“I found the car very easy to drive, as it suited my style,” the Australian enthused after arriving back in his homeland for Christmas, “It's a car with lots of downforce and was very quick in fast corners. I also loved the track and I can imagine why it's rated as probably one of best test tracks in the world.”
Asked how he felt he did on the one day he ran in France, Power admitted that he could have gone faster but that the time he posted fairly represented both his track time and his confidence towards the end of the season.
“I feel I'm in good form, and I'm very happy with the job I did at Paul Ricard," he revealed, "Of course, with more time in the car, it's always possible to do better, and the opportunities which have presented themselves over the last few weeks have made me even more determined to get back to Europe next year and continue my push towards Formula One."
Asked whether Draco could be a possible destination for 2005, Power remained cagey, but offered obvious praise for the Italian team.
“I found Draco Racing a very, very professional team - they have won many championships and had many great drivers go through them," he said, "I think we have a mutual respect for each other.”