A little over 24 hours after having to sit out the opening session of the latest World Series by Renault group test when his Ultimate Signature car caught light, Fabio Carbone set a scorching pace to top day two at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The day got off to a gentle start as overnight rain produced a wet track, with everyone waiting until the afternoon session to put on new tyres and go after good lap times. The conditions did not prevent running entirely, however, although Epsilon Euskadi's Mario Romancini probably wished that he hadn't ventured out after crash heavily and seriously damaging his car in the process.
Although drivers had little choice but to use wet-weather tyres for a large part of the morning, the pace gradually improved, enabling the fastest time to drop several times before the lunch break. Carbone, Romancini's team-mate Alexandre Marsoin, Prema duo Alvaro Barba and Miguel Molina, Draco's Bertrand Baguette, series returnee Borja Garcia, Interwetten's Salvador Duran, Pons pairing Marcos Martinez and Maximo Cortes, Carbone's team-mate Claudio Cantelli and day one pacesetter Giedo van der Garde all took turns to hold top spot as each lap seemed to produce a better mark.
Barba was the first to opt for slick tyres, a move that produced immediate results. With a lap of 1min 37.776secs, the Spaniard went more than five seconds quicker than everyone else - who promptly followed suit. Once again, the lead changed hands several times, with the action only interspersed with interruptions to the session due to a few minor incidents and crashes.
With a lap timed at 1min 34.958secs, van de Garde ended the morning session with the best time, despite going off on his last flying lap - an incident which brought the session to a close. Marco Barba assumed second spot, ahead of Martinez and Carlin's Robert Wickens.
The track had completely dried by the time the afternoon session got underway, but most drivers opted to put together long series of laps. Wickens set the early pace with a time of 1min 34.472secs, putting him ahead of Carbone and van der Garde, but Alvaro Barba then set a better time, only to be rapidly dislodged from top spot, first by Wickens' team-mate Mikhail Aleshin and then by the return of van der Garde.
As the afternoon drew to a close, it was time to put on new tyres, and Carbone left everyone in his wake as he set the fastest lap of the day in 1min 33.500secs. Several drivers were out on track at that stage, all looking to better the Brazilian's time, but Duran spoiled the party by crashing, obliging race control to bring out the red flag, leaving Carbone at the head of the timesheet ahead of van der Garde and Aleshin.
"This was my first real test session, as we've had quite a few problems up to now," the Ultimate Signature driver commented, "For a new team, it's really positive to be at the top of the standings. That shows our potential and the potential of the car."