Last season's runner-up in British Formula Renault, Sean McIntosh was clearly in his element at Donington Park, setting the fastest time during the usual pre-race test.

As at Spa and the N?rburgring, the UK's only World Series by Renault round got underway on Friday morning, this time with only 29 cars present as Pons Racing failed to find anyone to replace Comtec-bound Celso Miguez alongside local favourite James Rossiter. There were new faces elsewhere, however, notably - and as is becoming habitual - at Eurointernational, which gives WSbR debuts to Spanish F3 frontrunner Marcos Martinez and FRenault UK's Richard Keen.

The first session provided Milos Pavlovic with a chance to show what he could do given a shot with race winners Draco Multiracing USA. Having held top spot on the timing screens for the opening 15 minutes, the Yugoslav hit back immediately when Interwetten.com's Eric Salignon snatched the best time away from him. In the space of two laps, Pavlovic set the time to beat, albeit one which was still six-tenths short of Felix Porteiro's 2005 record.

Despite all 29 drivers eagerly awaiting the second session, and the chance to move onto fresh tyres, the outing proved a fraught one, disrupted by a series of incidents, the worst of which involved Hayanari Shimoda, Borja Garcia, Davide Valsecchi and points leader Andy Soucek.

McIntosh, however, managed to make the most of the time between stoppages, bagging a clear lap to set the fastest time, and finally break Porteiro's mark.

"Finally, I'm driving on a circuit that I know well, particularly having won here last year in Formula Renault," the Canadian smiled, "We made a lot of improvements to the car between the two sessions and now it's paying off. But, having said that, I know that everything really depends on what happens tomorrow, rather than today."

Alx Danielsson claimed second fastest time, and knows that he, too, is in with a good chance on what is home territory for his Comtec Racing team.

"It was a bit mad out there, with people running off left, right and centre... usually right in front of me on a blind corner!" the Swede recounted, "I put in my best lap very early on though, and know that our car is in excellent shape for qualifying tomorrow morning."

New team-mate Miguez seemed happy, the benefit of his move to Comtec quickly becoming apparent.

"It's a real pleasure to drive this car, and on this circuit, which I particularly enjoy," the Spaniard commented, "My goal is to be in the top five tomorrow."

With the fifth fastest time, South African Adrian Zaugg belied his lack of experience, and confirmed the good form which earned him a seventh on debut with Carlin at the N?rburgring.

"I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the car all the time," the FRenault Eurocup graduate admitted, "If everything falls into place, a podium spot might just be within my grasp!"

Under the watchful eye of mentor Damon Hill, Epsilon Euskadi's Steven Kane also made the most of prior circuit knowledge to put himself up amongst the big guns right from the outset. Eighth fastest, the Irish driver is hopeful of a breakthrough result this weekend.