Pic pensions off old era
1 January 1901
Charles Pic topped the times on the final day of testing with the original World Series by Renault car, ahead of next year's introduction of a second generation machine.
After three years of loyal service, the Dallara chassis bowed out as the Valencia test came to a close with FRenault graduate Pic, again running with Tech 1 Racing, setting the fastest time of day three at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
With the sun gracing the morning session, Mikhail Aleshin set the ball rolling after an hour of track time with the first meaningful lap, posting a 1min 21.808secs effort despite running a high fever. Pic, however, had been looking very sharp since the start of the session, and soon hit back with a better time of 1min 21.677secs. Marco Bonanomi, who had led the way on day two, then usurped the Frenchman, by taking Red Devil Comtec to the head of the board, only for Pic to regain the upper hand with a 1min 21.391secs lap.
"The track was clearly faster than it was yesterday," Pic commented, "I've made some useful progress on my driving technique and we are now going to work on that to analyse and understand the data that we have collected over the last three days."
As if had throughout the week, the track proved to be slower after the break for lunch, but that did not prevent occasional WSbR runner Yelmer Buurman from moving to the top of the session times on 1min 22.133secs. The Dutchman remained untouched for some time, before Aleshin edged closer to the 1min 22secs threshold.
"I've been testing in GP2, F3 and DTM recently," Buurman pointed out, "so, understandably, I had a little trouble getting back to grips with the World Series car."
The leading contenders for the fastest time then waited until the final hour of the session before switching to fresh rubber. Guillaume Moreau set the pace for KTR with an excellent time of 1min 21.614secs, before Bonanomi, Jousse, Pic, Molina and Baguette all took it in turns to improve on the Frenchman's fastest lap. Moreau wasn't able to do any better on his second set of new tyres, but Pic picked up a little extra pace to finish second in the session, ahead of Baguette, Bonanomi and Molina.
"We have significantly improved the settings on the car today, and I had two sets of fresh tyres at my disposal this afternoon," Moreau revealed, "The first run went well, but I'm sure I could have gone two tenths better if it hadn't been for the yellow flags."
Several drivers would have featured higher up the order had it not been for having their times disallowed for running underweight - including Michael Herck and Daniil Move - or exceeding the allowed limits of the track, with Marco Barba and Bonanomi at fault. With the Italian unable to up his pace, Aleshin was left to take the second best lap of the day, and the week as a whole.
"I'm delighted," the Russian, who continued running with Carlin, admitted, "This gives us an idea of what we can achieve with the team next year, even if the car will be different."
Team-mate Robert Wickens claimed seventh on the day, behind Bonanomi, Moreau, Molina and Baguette, but admitted that he expected to find time with each outing.
"Even though I've taken part in the last two meetings, I still feel a bit of a rookie," the American explained, "I was getting a lot of oversteer and I wasn't able to make the most of my new tyres. Still, I feel I've made good progress here."
As well as Aleshin's return for Carlin Motorsport and Buurman turning out with Prema Powerteam, the field featured a number of changes, with James Walker joining Red Devil Comtec, Herck at Pons Racing and Move with Cram Competition. Two rookies also joined the fray to get their first and only experience of the old-spec car, with British FRenault frontrunner Riki Christodoulou joining Fortec Motorsport to out-pace Interwetten.com's Colombian recruit Julian 'Omar' Leal.
"I was ready for the power, but was quite surprised by the braking," Christodoulou commented, "I made a few mistakes, but I really enjoyed it. However, I'll be looking more towards a drive in Eurocup Formula Renault in 2008, which would allow me to become familiar with the international circuits."
World Series by Renault testing times: day 3 (combined) – Valencia:
Charles Pic Tech 1 1m 21.391s
Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1m 21.416s
Marco Bonanomi Comtec 1m 21.429s
Guillaume Moreau KTR 1m 21.614s
Miguel Molina Prema 1m 21.625s
Bertrand Baguette Draco 1m 21.748s
Robert Wickens Carlin 1m 21.818s
Daniil Move Cram 1m 21.825s
Michael Herck Pons 1m 21.836s
Yelmer Buurman Prema 1m 21.951s
Aleix Alcaraz Pons 1m 21.969s
Julien Jousse Tech 1 1m 21.983s
Charlie Kimball Victory 1m 22.040s
Fairuz Fauzy Fortec 1m 22.082s
Johnny Cecotto RC 1m 22.092s
Marco Barba Draco 1m 22.131s
Mario Romancini Epsilon Euskadi 1m 22.138s
Pablo Sanchez Lopez Interwetten 1m 22.162s
Xavier Maassen KTR 1m 22.285s
Pippa Mann Cram 1m 22.290s
James Walker Comtec 1m 22.551s
Pasquale di Sabatino RC 1m 22.695s
Riki Christodoulou Fortec 1m 22.945s
Vitor Garcia Epsilon Euskadi 1m 22.997s
Omar Leal Interwetten 1m 24.007s