Bertrand Baguette is clear about his ambitions for the final weekend of the World Series by Renault season in Barcelona, after his performance in pre-event testing convinced him that he could come out on top.
With new champion Giedo van der Garde absent as he makes his GP2 debut in China, the Belgian driver claimed the best time of the day ahead of Mexican driver Salvador Duran and the Barba brothers, Alvaro and Marco (International Draco Racing.
Most of the field were on track from the very start of the first 45-minute session at the Circuit de Catalunya, with Draco's Baguette the quickest off the mark. Although Charles Pic and Miguel Molina both occupied top spot in the early laps - the Frenchman leading with a time of 1min 37.670secs when the red flag was brought out after Claudio Cantelli crashed off after ten minutes - things turned around at the restart.
The lead passed, first, to Mikhail Aleshin, then Felipe Albuquerque, Alvaro Barba and, finally, Baguette. Another interruption, this time due to sixth-placed Marco Bonanomi straying into the gravel, preceded Aleshin having the last word, setting the fastest time of the morning at 1min 34.893secs to put himself ahead of Alvaro Barba, Baguette and Marco Barba.
The drivers began the afternoon session with a series of long runs, with Aleshin picking up where he left off, leading the pack ahead of Baguette and Duran. On worn tyres, the drivers initially focused on getting their handling right in race conditions, and did not get close to their times from the morning session.
After a brief interruption caused by Fabio Carbone crashing off, everyone set off again in search of quick times. On home turf, Molina initially took the lead with a time of 1min 34.304secs, but his time was soon bettered by Duran, then Baguette. With a lap at 1min 33.949secs, the Belgian eventually finished top of the pile, ahead of Duran and the Barba brothers, with Alvaro again ahead of Marco, while Molina completed the top five.
"It's a good start to weekend," Baguette insisted, "Once again, we were in contention from the off. Our car is performing well and I'm feeling good. We've only won one race this season, but that's not really a fair reflection of our efforts. We've deserved to win more - at Estoril, for example - and we really need at least one more win. We're always among the leaders; we're just missing the results, so I'll be looking to finish the season on a high this weekend."