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Villa in charge as GP2 test gets underway

Javier Villa kicked off preparations for the 2009 GP2 Series by breaking the lap record during the first official test of the year at Paul Ricard.

After three seasons competing with Racing Engineering, Villa joins Super Nova Racing, whom he currently races for in the Asia Series, for 2009, beginning his stint in style by becoming the first driver to dip below the 1min 12secs mark around the French course.

The Spaniard was the quickest driver in both the morning and afternoon sessions to be just over a tenth faster than the man who replaces him at Racing Engineering, Lucas di Grassi.

The 2007 runner-up made his debut with the reigning champions, who will sport distinctive red and yellow colours this season, at Paul Ricard and made an immediate impression by going second fastest.

In fact, many of the expected title contenders for 2009 featured in the highest positions, with Asia Series championship leader Kamui Kobayashi third quickest with DAMS, ahead of Campos' new signing Romain Grosjean and his ART replacement Pastor Maldonado in fourth and fifth.

With experienced GP2 competitor Andreas Zuber sixth for FMS, it ensured six different teams would feature in the top six positions.

Having been confirmed with the team on the eve of the test, Luca Fillipi signalled his return to Super Nova in seventh place, which, together with Villa, will give the British team a boost ahead of the new season.

Italian counterpart Davide Valsecchi was eighth in the Durango, ahead of fellow sophomore racer Jerome d'Ambrosio who was ninth quickest.

Edoardo Mortara rounded out the top ten to be the best of the many rookies who will compete in 2009, the Italian six positions higher than team-mate Sergio Perez in the new look Telmex Arden team.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Javier Villa - Racing Engineering   [pic credit: GP2 Series]
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Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
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Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, F2, Formula 2, Bahrain
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Alex Lynn - DAMS
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing

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