GP2 teams came to the end of a productive two-day testing session at the 4.428km Circuito de Jerez, as they start their development work for the GP2 Final in November and beyond as they look ahead to the 2012 championship.
Fabio Leimer especially enjoyed his opportunity in the Racing Engineering car, putting the cooler conditions on Thursday morning to good use by cutting his leading time on Wednesday by another half a second to 1:26.701s, the best time set by anyone this week.
"It was a very good day. Like yesterday we were quick straight away in the morning session," Leimer said. "We worked on different solutions today, which helped us to improve the lap times even further. I was really happy with the morning."
Later there was work of a different type to do as the team concentrated on its development programme: "In the afternoon we worked on long runs, taking advantage of the weather conditions to learn more about the behaviour of the tyres," he said, explaining why he was running four seconds slower for the final Jerez testing session.
Overall the president of Racing Engineering, Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, couldn't have been happier with his star pupil. "I think it's been a very positive two days: not only did Fabio do a fantastic job in adapting to the team, but also the team in adapting to Fabio," he said. "Although we were going through our testing program for next season, Fabio has consistently been the quickest."
In the other Racing Engineering car, Rodolfo Gonzalez had made way overnight for the debut of British driver Rupert Svendsen-Cook, who had not previously raced anything more powerful than a F3 car. He concentrated on simply improving his time lap-by-lap throughout the day, and succeeded even when climbing temperatures were making the track slower and slower on Pirelli hard compound tyres.
"I think we really progressed during the test day and I improved my lap time each outing," said Svendsen-Cook. "Arriving at the test on the second day without knowing the car or circuit before, made it a great challenge."
"Even though he has had no experience with GP2 and it was his first time in Jerez, Rupert was doing a good job today at learning so much in such short time," confirmed de Orleans-Borbon.
Behind Leimer and Racing Engineering, Auto GP driver Fabio Onidi set the next-fastest time of the two day session with 1:26.843s on Thursday morning when Scuderia Coloni were concentrating on qualifying simulations, and he was surprised to be so fast so soon. "I knew I could be quick but being in front straight out of the box was amazing, beyond my expectations frankly speaking," he said. "All in all I discovered that I like the GP2 car a lot, it suits my driving style perfectly and that's very important, because it means that I can drive with a lot of confidence."