19 May 2009
Nakajima paces Rockingham test
Raikkonen Robertson Racing rookies Daisuke Nakajima and Carlos Huertas enjoyed a moment in the sun as F3 testing resumed at Rockingham, before Nick Tandy delivered a heartening tribute to his family team just days after brother Joe perished in a car accident.
The dry morning session allowed Nakajima to further enhance his growing reputation, the Japanese newcomer putting RRR Dallara-Mercedes at the top of the times as he made the best of the conditions to lap the speedway in a time of 1min 12.252secs - a full tenth faster than any of his rivals could manage.
Though comfortably inside the circuit lap record, Nakajima's time was more than a second shy of the testing mark set by championship leader Daniel Ricciardo in mid-March, but was never threatened as weather conditions worsened. Nakajima completing 62 laps around the 1.9 mile road course circuit, setting his best time of 1min 12.252secs halfway through the morning.
"I was really pleased with our progress today," Nakajima reported, "It went very well and we found a great set-up on the car. I'm really looking forward to coming back here to race."
Returning to the track after lunch, it was 17-year old team-mate Huertas' turn to set the pace, the young Colombian making significant improvements from the first session to be at the top of the timesheets when the rain finally started to fall. As conditions continued to deteriorate, the youngster's time remained unbeaten, with Nakajima then recording the second fastest time to make it a Räikkönen Robertson one-two on the timesheets at the end of the afternoon.
"Daisuke and Carlos did a great job today, and I think their performance shows just how far they've come since the start of the season," RRR team principal Anthony Hieatt commented, "Daisuke once again shamed several drivers who have much more experience here than he does, while Carlos worked very hard to make some big improvements in the afternoon.
"Rain in the afternoon session also gave us chance to test a wet set-up, so I'm confident that the team is in good shape ahead of the next race here in a couple of weeks."
Preparation for next weekend's fifth and sixth rounds of the Cooper Tyres-backed series also saw a number of notable performances elsewhere, with Spain's Victor Garcia outpacing Fortec Motorsport team-mate Riki Christodoulou by half a second in the dry, emerging second fastest on the day, while T-Sport's Wayne Boyd, who was fourth fastest on the day, coming in ahead of team-mate Adriano Buzaid by three-thousandths of a second.
"I am very happy with this result," Garcia noted, "I did some tests earlier this year at Rockingham and I felt very comfortable and adapted to the circuit. The team is working very hard and, every day, I feel more integrated with my engineer. I now feel optimistic for the next two races that will take place in less than two weeks."
Tandy, meanwhile, had to settle for tenth spot on the combined timesheets, but set the fastest lap time in the day's final damp session to confirm the JTR team's pace and commitment just five days after the tragic loss of his brother and team leader. Tandy's Mygale clocked a 1min 14.783secs lap in the closing moments, making him the only driver to break the 75-second mark for the 1.94-mile Northamptonshire circuit in that session.
The wettest of the afternoon's sessions saw Carlin driver Oliver Oakes on top, a hundredth quicker than Christodoulou, with Tandy third. Gabriel Dias' T-Sport Dallara was the quickest of the three National Class runners in action during the day.
Leading performances - Rockingham (18 May)
Daisuke Nakajima RRR Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.252s 1m 15.178
Victor Garcia Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.351s 1m 15.321s
Henry Arundel Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.408s 1m 15.176s
Wayne Boyd T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.414s 1m 15.707s
Adriano Buzaid T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.417s 1m 15.710s
Max Chilton Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.627s 1m 15.148s
Renger van der Zande Hitech Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.665s no time
Daniel Ricciardo Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.687s 1m 15.484s
Carlos Huertas RRR Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.696s 1m 15.500s
Nick Tandy JTR Mygale-Mercedes 1m 12.732s 1m 14.783s
Oliver Oakes Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.816s 1m 15.932s
Walter Grubmüller Hitech Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.869s 1m 16.382s
Riki Christodoulou Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.870s 1m 15.475s
Gabriel Dias T-Sport Dallara-Mugen 1m 13.203s 1m 16.913s*
Hywel Lloyd CFR Dallara-Mugen 1m 13.517s 1m 15.726s
Daniel McKenzie Fortec Dallara-Mugen 1m 14.104s 1m 23.235s*
Jay Bridger Litespeed Mygale-Mugen 1m 14.211s no time
Victor Correa Litespeed Litespeed-Mugen 1m 15.769s 1m 21.952s*
[* denotes National Class runner; damp track times in italics]
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