Davide Valsecchi completed his hattrick of fastest times at Jerez, going to the top of the timesheets early on during the last of three days of pre-season testing in Spain and then stubbornly refusing to be budged for the rest of the day.
Valsecchi set an early lap of 1:25.567s in the DAMS car, deposing early front runner Giedo van der Garde from the top spot and never bettered for the rest of the day, despite challenges from Coloni's Stafeno Coletti and Lotus GP's Esteban Gutiérrez that slipped them in front of the Caterham by the end of the session.
"The team gave me a car that suited my driving style," Stefano Coletti had said after Wednesday's track time. "I could really push a lot with ease. Apart from my quick laps, I was really happy about the race simulations because our race pace was frankly impressive and we gathered a lot of useful data."
Only two other drivers dipped under the 1:26s mark, with Carlin's Max Chilton and iSport's Marcus Ericsson having good days at the office.
It was also a good day for some of the new boys from GP3, with Lotus GP's new signing James Calado briefly topping the times at the very start of the day but who ended up just pipped by Tom Dillmann by 0.043s after the Frenchman switched to the Rapax team for the day.
The final day at Jerez
had an interrupted start when a piece of curbing broke off just 30 minutes into the morning, bringing out an hour-long red flag while track officials effected repairs. The organisers compensated for the lost time by cancelling the hour-long lunch break in the middle of the day, allowing the cars to run continuously through to the scheduled finish time of 4pm local time.
Once the session was back underway, there were further early red flags for off-track incidents involving Lotus GP's Estaban Gutierrez and Venezuela GP Lazarus' Fabrizio Crestani, as well as Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer who went off into the gravel in turn 1.
As the day warmed up, teams switched to race simulations and the push for fast times abated, with van der Garde putting in a mighty 96 laps in total in the Caterham by the time Kevin Ceccon spun and brought out a final red flag 15 minutes from the end of the session.
"We are definitely moving in the right direction," van der Garde had said after the second day of testing. "The progress we are seeing now is all very positive. Tonight we'll have a good, long debrief and look where we can improve and hopefully we can make another step like this."
The teams now pack up and decamp to Barcelona for next week's three day pre-season test from Tuesday March 6 to Thursday March 8. Then the GP2
cars get crated up and dispatched to Sepang, Malaysia for the season opener on March 23-25.Full test times for day 3