Formula Three debutant Riki Christodoulou made an immediate impact on the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series by topping the timesheets for Fortec Motorsport at the end of the first official test session of 2009 at Snetterton.
The 20-year old - a race winner in Formula Renault with Fortec last season - enjoyed his first taste of the team's new Dallara F309 chassis, clocking a best lap half a second better than nearest rival Max Chilton, and over a second inside the Norfolk circuit's official lap record.
"The Dallara's new aero package is awesome - you can really feel the difference," Christo' commented, comparing the 2009 car to his previous outings in older F3 machinery, "It was a great day for me, the team worked well and we ended up on top - but I was surprised by the margin."
The showing will undoubtedly help attract attention for Christodoulou, who hopes to be on the grid for the opening round of the championship, but is still seeking funding for his 2009 campaign.
"We don't yet have a full budget for the year," he confirmed, "but we are working hard at it and I am still hungry for F3."
The Snetterton test also marked the first public UK outing for the new Volkswagen engine, and the four cars fielded by reigning series champion Carlin Motorsport all featured among the top six, with Chilton leading the way following a strong private test at Pembrey last week. Team-mates Henry Arundel, Daniel Ricciardo and Oliver Oakes filled fourth, fifth and sixth places, separated from Chilton by Hitech returnee Walter Grubmuller, who ended the day six-tenths off the pace.
Another FRenault graduate, Daniel McKenzie, posted the seventh-fastest time to give Fortec two cars in the top ten, and put himself ahead of fellow newcomers Adriano Buzaid, Carlos Huertas and Wayne Boyd, as T-Sport and Raikkonen Robertson Racing both broke into the top group.
Victor Garcia, Hywel Lloyd, Stephane Richelmi, Victor Correa and Daisuke Nakajima - brother of F1 star Kazuki - rounded out the 15-man field consisting largely of rookies or newcomers to the British series.Leading performances (24 February) - Oulton Park:Riki Christodoulou
1m 00.850sMax Chilton
1m 01.370sWalter Grubmüller
1m 01.493sHenry Arundel
1m 01.511sDaniel Ricciardo
1m 01.519sOliver Oakes
1m 01.537sDaniel McKenzie
1m 01.939sAdriano Buzaid
1m 02.104sCarlos Huertas
1m 02.119sWayne Boyd
1m 02.295sVictor Garcia
1m 02.419sHywel Lloyd
1m 02.545sStéphane Richelmi
1m 02.691sVictor Correa
1m 03.975sDaisuke Nakajima