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Oliver Rowland set a new lap record on his way to leading Formula Renault 3.5 practice on Friday morning at Le Man's Bugatti circuit.
It is the championship's first visit to the French track since 2009 and the times did not disappoint. Rowland's 1m 22.791s surpassed the old seven year record by over two seconds.
Vaxiviere was first to break this record, commanding the mid-session standings with a fastest time of 1:23.563.This was later trumped by Rowland, forcing the Frenchman to settle for second behind his championship rival. Rowland was at least two seconds faster than his competitor in sectors one and two in his Fortec Motorsports challenger.
At the third round of the month, and following two wins since the summer break, Strakka Racing's Tio Ellinas maintained his form for third with Dean Stoneman fourth. Making his return to FR3.5, Andre Negrao was fifth for International Draco Racing. Bruno Bonifacio and Pietro Fantin are no longer at the helm of their cars after reported financial problems leave Negrao the sole driver for the Brazilian outfit.
Beitske Visser was an impressive sixth with Egor Orudzhev, Jazeman Jaafar, Nicholas Latifi and Tom Dillmann completing the top ten on Friday morning.
Alfonso Celis Jr stopped on track with 41 minutes to go, prompting a red flag in the initial stages. Later made it back out for 18th fastest. Russian Nikita Zoblin, replacing Rene Binder at Pons Racing, was 19th and partners Yu Kanamaru who made his own debut at the last round at the Nurburgring. This marks the seventh driver change at Pons Racing after Roberto Merhi brought his campaign to a premature end earlier this month.
The cars will return to the track at 14:40 CET for second practice.