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Catherham happy with Jerez pace

2 March 2012

One of the hardest working drivers in the GP2 field at Jerez was Giedo van der Garde, who put in a mighty 96 laps during the third and final day of testing in Spain this week.

"After 96 laps I am feeling good, that's the most I have ever done in one day," said the Dutch driver entering his fourth season of GP2 competition in 2012. "I am happy I feel physically well prepared!"

As well as the endurance aspect, van der Garde was also looking good on raw pace, topping the timesheets early on before a lengthy hour-long delay to proceedings while track officials made repairs to a damaged section of curbing, and still only missing out on the lead time of the day by a slender 0.175s.

"This morning we tested both hard and medium tyres. Both runs were red flagged so we did not get the optimum use out of the new tyres and we are still figuring out the characteristics," he explained. "We did no performance running today but we've been testing to see what works and what doesn't and I think we know which direction we want to go now.

From a team perspective, team manager Phil Spencer said that he was "very pleased with how things have gone here this week in Jerez," adding: "We know Giedo is very experienced and he has been strong from the word go."

Spencer pointed out that they had been glitch-free for the first shakedown test of the year. "The reliability of the cars has been absolutely excellent and both drivers have lived up to expectations," he said.

That was an aspect particularly appreciated by the team's technical director, Humphrey Corbett. "I must thank the guys for giving us a very reliable car, it ran faultlessly and this makes our jobs as engineers a lot more easy. We have done a great deal of work here and I am very pleased with the outcome.

"Both drivers seem happy," Corbett continued. "They have put in a lot of work and a lot of laps and they are both feeling good, so I have no concerns about their physical fitness. We have a couple of good drivers and I am sure we can have a competitive season

Spencer admitted that they still had a way to go to get their new second driver, Rodolfo Gonzalez, up to speed in time for the start of the season later this month.

"We are working well with Rodolfo and I am pleased he has shown his capability," he insisted. "Our aim this season is to get strong finishes for both drivers."

Gonzalez put in over 60 laps during Thursday, but was frustrated when it came to getting clear runs at the key moments. "We made steady progress this morning but unfortunately we had a red flag on both our new tyre runs, but that's testing for you," he said.

"I am confident we can make good progress at the test next week before the first race in Malaysia," he added. "I am looking forward to more learning and more driving for sure."

Before the season opener at Sepang on March 23-25, Caterham will join the rest of the GP2 field for a second three-day test stint in Spain, this time moving to Barcelona in time the session running from Tuesday March 6 to Thursday March 8.

"We do not race here in Jerez so the information we have received this week must be put in the context of Barcelona," pointed out Corbett. "The next test will be more applicable as we have a race there.

"I think 60% of what we have learnt here will be carried over to next week and the rest will be circuit specific," he added. "We will run different tests as there are longer straights in Barcelona and a real positive is that we have data from last year which will give us a good base line to start from for the three days, but we will be flat out between now and then!"

Certainly both drivers were looking forward to next week's track time.

"I can't wait to get back to Barcelona, my second home!" enthused Gonzalez. "I am looking forward to more learning and more driving for sure."

"Our work is paying off and now we will make a mega plan for Barcelona," agreed van der Garde.


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