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Christensen, Gutierrez share spoils in Barca GP3 test

The three-hour afternoon session offered a few surprises – and a few more red flags – but ART kept a firm grip on the coveted top spot as a few other drivers successfully added themselves to the mix. Gutierrez posted an improved time of 1min 37.480secs to claim the number one spot again, this time nearly half a second clear of the rest of the pack. Second to the 18-year old was Monras, the Spaniard heading Wickens, van der Zande and Smith. Christensen finished sixth, ahead of Mirko Bortolotti (Addax), Simon Trummer (Jenzer), Melker and Rossi, as reliability continued with 1457 laps being completed over the two sessions.

“I've been enjoying the test in Barcelona and it's been more interesting for me because the car behaves so differently to Circuit Paul Ricard," Gutierrez reported, "We've been using all of our data from the two previous tests and running to a really busy testing schedule, especially working on race set-up. Even though ART have been at the top of nearly every test session we never get over confident. I am ready for the first race, but as always we will keep trying to improve and keep pushing tomorrow.”

The second morning started on a drying track after heavy rain, with teams initially opting for wet weather tyres. However, the 30 youngsters on show didn't let the weather dampen their spirits, matching fast laps and offs as they continued to push to find their limits.

As the track tried and drivers were able to go out on fresh slick Pirelli tyres the lap times dropped rapidly. Gutierrez matched his best time from day one almost exactly, while Christensen took second spot for MW Arden after posting his best time of the test so far. van der Zande finished the session in third spot, while Varhaug bounced back from an off on the opening day to put in an impressive performance in fourth spot, the 19-year-old's highest placing in a GP3 test to date.

Jakes rounded out the top five for Manor, ahead of Rossi, Morad, Nico Muller (Jenzer), Monras and Wickens, with the top ten drivers were separated by just six tenths of a second.

"ART Grand Prix look strong in all track conditions, but drivers and teams have been testing with different fuel levels and set-ups, so it's not until qualifying at the Spanish GP that we will truly all know where we stand," Status team manager Simon Cayzer summed up, "What's a clear factor, though, is that there are 30 very equal and competitive cars out there, and there will be multiple stoppages in sessions - there's a going to be a great skill in finding a clear lap to set a time, and the fact that some front-runners will sometimes be unlucky is going to mix up the grids and make the racing even more exciting."

GP3 will be back on track in Barcelona for the opening round of the series on 8-9 May.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
GP3 Series car tests at Portimao
Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix [GP2 Series]
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc, ART Grand Prix, GP3 [Credit: XPB]
Charles Leclerc - ART   [pic credit: GP3 Media]
Norbert Matsushita - ART Grand Prix
Norbert Matsushita - ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix [credit: GP2 media]
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin - ART Grand Prix
Norman Nato - Racing Engineering
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc - ART Grand Prix

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