1 January 1901
van der Garde paces Spa test.
With barely a week having passed since the season's first World Series by Renault meeting at Monza, it might not have been expected that there would be much change in the pecking order as the field rocked up at Spa-Francorchamps, but Giedo van der Garde made sure of that in pre-event testing.
Six hours of action on the Ardennes circuit were enough for the P1 Motorsport driver to underline his form from round one and suggest that he will be a force to reckon with again this weekend, topping both the morning and afternoon sessions.
Local favourite Bertrand Baguette, hoping to bounce back from a relatively miserable Monza weekend, was the first driver to set a time of note, but the International Draco Racing pilot did not stay at the top of the order for long as, for the first half hour, times improved with almost every lap completed.
van der Garde quickly took top spot, only to be challenged again by Baguette, who appeared to have taken control with a time of 2min 04.610secs. Once again, however, van der Garde dug deep to produce a better effort, clocking 2min 04.276secs before improving to a 2min '03.664secs lap that proved to be beyond everyone before the onset of rain signalled that it was time to break for lunch. Baguette remained second, just ahead of Red Devil Comtec's Marco Bonanomi.
By the time the afternoon session got underway, the track was dry again, and Prema's Miguel Molina was the first to show frontrunning pace, albeit still trailing van der Garde's morning best.
"We put on new tyres at the start of the session so we could collect data on how they worked in these conditions," Molina revealed, "We have a good set-up which means we should be there or thereabouts, but the car can still be improved."
Baguette then grabbed top spot but, despite being familiar with his home circuit, the Belgian was unable put together a long run.
"I had gearshift problems again, like in Monza," he sighed, "We are competitive, right there on lap times, but I really hope we will be able to correct this problem quickly."
Bonanomi was next to take a turn at the top of the timesheets, improving the mark set by van der Garde in the morning, but, after a quiet start to the session, as he focused on improving the handling of his car, the Dutchman took back the lead with a new best time of 2min 02.886secs.
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