1 January 1901
Winkelhock demolishes Ricard WS record.
Less than 24 hours after Will Power had established a new mark for the French circuit, Draco Multiracing's Markus Winkelhock set about demolishing the Australian's time by a whole second.
Running on the 3C track layout, making it hard to compare performances with the GP2 Series that spent much of the pre-season encamped at the venue, the all-new World Series cars continued to impress, with Winkelhock merely adding his 1min 13.813secs lap to a string of new records set during the build-up to the series' Zolder debut next weekend.
Although not all were present at Ricard this week, the 30 Renault-powered cars have now completed some 38,000km of pre-season testing, with reliability and equality far exceeding the expectations of those that expected more teething troubles and disparity between teams. Lap records eclipsing those produced by the former Nissan World Series cars have been set at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, by Adrian Valles, Valencia, by Felix Porteiro, and, now, at Paul Ricard, where Winkelhock took nearly three seconds off the previous mark set by Robert Kubica in February.
The German's time was beaten by Matteo Meneghello, but it later transpired that the Eurointernational driver unintentionally cut one of the chicanes on his fastest lap...
With Winkelhock moving back to the top of the timesheets, it was left to Tuesday pacesetter Power to provide the greatest challenge to his time, the Aussie lapping three-tenths slower. Power was in good company, with Carlin team-mate Andreas Zuber within hundredths, while Valles, Eric Salignon and Patrick Pilet were half a second further back - but all under Power's Tuesday record. Indeed, everyone down to twelfth-placed Christian Montanari beat the overnight lap record, with others only fractionally outside.
There was disappointment for the DAMS team which, after seeing both its drivers in the top ten on Tuesday, had to settle for a best of eleventh second time around, courtesy of Alx Danielsson. Jenzer Motorsport, on the other hand, had both Pilet and Colin Flaming in the top ten - the only team other than Carlin to achieve that feat as surprises such as Ivan Bellarosa and Stefan Proetto recorded faster laps than anticipated.
Pre-season testing is now over for the World Series teams, with racing finally getting underway at Zolder next weekend. As for picking a favourite...... who knows?
Leading performances (20 April) - Paul Ricard:
Markus Winkelhock Draco 1min 13.813secs
Will Power Carlin 1min 14.118secs
Andreas Zuber Carlin 1min 14.182secs
Adrian Valles Pons 1min 14.634secs
Eric Salignon Cram 1min 14.641secs
Patrick Pilet Jenzer 1min 14.693secs
Milos Pavlovic GD 1min 14.707secs
Ivan Bellarosa Avelon 1min 14.738secs
Stefano Proetto Interwetten 1min 14.789secs
Colin Flaming Jenzer 1min 14.799secs
Alx Danielsson DAMS 1min 14.845secs
Christian Montanari Draco 1min 14.895secs
Simon Pagenaud Saulnier 1min 15.034secs
Enrico Toccacelo Victory 1min 15.064secs
Tomas Kostka Victory 1min 15.085secs
Daniel la Rosa Interwetten 1min 15.133secs
Celso Miguez Pons 1min 15.162secs
Giovanni Tedeschi RC 1min 15.195secs
Tristian Gommendy KTR 1min 15.237secs
Pastor Maldonado DAMS 1min 15.265secs
Jaap van Lagen KTR 1min 15.382secs
Ryo Fukuda Saulnier 1min 15.510secs
Karun Chandhok RC 1min 15.523secs
Giorgio Mondini EuroInternational 1min 15.542secs
Damien Pasini Cram 1min 16.041secs
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