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Vergne sets pace at Rockingham

Jean-Eric Vergne heads pack at Rockingham for Carlin ahead of Oli Webb, James Calado, Adriano Buzaid and Snetterton pacesetter Daisuke Nakajima.
Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne was the only driver in the Cooper Tires British F3 field to break the 71-second mark for a lap of the 1.94-mile Rockingham circuit during the official two-day test, which ended on Tuesday.

The Red Bull racer posted his 1 minute 10.970 second lap time towards the end of the morning session; shortly afterwards he spun his Volkswagen-powered Carlin machine into a gravel trap and had to sit out the closing minutes. Vergne was quickest again in the afternoon but was still eight-hundredths of a second off his morning pace.

"We had a good test," said Vergne. "I think we learned a lot about the car and the circuit and I was very happy to finish quickest overall. I think we are really making some good steps forward now. With every session I feel I know more about the car and feel more comfortable."

Fortec's rookie Oli Webb was the quickest runner on Monday and his time from day 1, though two-tenths shy of Vergne's best, was good enough for second best over the two days as a whole.

Vergne's Carlin team-mates James Calado and Adriano Buzaid were third and fourth fastest, with Snetterton pacesetter Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson) fifth, just ahead of his team-mate Carlos Huertas.

Remarkably, the top 13 drivers over the two days all set times quicker than last summer's pole position mark.

In the National Class, T-Sport's Menasheh Idafar was again the class of the field. He was run close on Monday by visiting Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto, the reigning Formula BMW Pacific Champion. Haryanto, who tested with Team West-Tec, plans to dovetail some British F3 races later in the season with a GP3 campaign.

Oulton Park, the Eastertime venue for the championship's opening rounds, is the next circuit on the pre-season F3 tour, with a day's testing scheduled for next Wednesday [March 10].

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Jean Eric Vergne (FRA) Carlin Dallara Volkswagen

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