1 January 1901
Molina keeps up the pace.
After taking his first victory last week at Estoril, Pons Racing's Miguel Molina maintained his momentum by setting the fastest time in collective testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya ahead of this weekend's season finale.
Tech 1's title ambitions also received a boost, as Julien Jousse and points leader Alvaro Parente posted the second and third best times of the day respectively.
The track was still damp when the drivers got things underway with the first 45-minute session of the day but, lap by lap, a dry line started to develop and the times started to come down with five minutes to go. Right at the chequered flag, Parente's closest challenger, Ben Hanley, jumped to the top of the list, before the Portuguese ace supplanted his Prema rival.
With the sun getting stronger as the day wore on, the track was almost completely dry for the second session at the start of the afternoon. With ten minutes gone, Epsilon Euskadi's Davide Valsecchi became the first driver to go faster than 1min 34secs, before the session was interrupted by a lengthy red flag while the marshals cleared Richard Philippe's Fortec Motorsport car from the track.
Once the action resumed, Molina and Parente began to fight it out for the fastest time, with the Catalan driver having the final word at the chequered flag, putting in a lap in a 1min 32.886secs effort, while Parente also found himself bettered by Tech 1 team-mate Jousse.
"This morning, I was going well on wet tyres, but I didn't manage to get a clear lap in on slicks," Molina reflected, "In the second session, however, we put in some good work and everything went perfectly. Obviously, it'd be a dream come true to repeat my victory from Estoril, but the competition is so stiff in this championship that it's difficult to win more than one race a season. We'll just have to see what happens!"
By finishing in the top ten in each of the last six races, Jousse is the most successful driver, points-wise, since Donington, and the Frenchman confirmed that he is still on form by setting the second fastest time of the day, albeit three-tenths adrift of the pacesetter.
"After the red flag came out, I switched onto a fresh set of tyres and was able to get two clear laps in," he revealed, "and, despite the gap between me and Molina, I feel very confident about tomorrow."
Parente also remained optimistic of his chances of claiming the title in style after lapping third fastest, a further tenth or so from his team-mate.
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