Jann Mardenborough was on the pace early on the first day of activity at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain which is hosting the last of three two-day GP3 pre-season tests. The Carlin driver set the best time of the day of 1:34.910s in the morning session on the 2.892-mile, 16-turn grand prix circuit.
CLICK: Full times from day 1 of pre-season testing at Barcelona
The test had got underway under grey skies that discouraged any early takers, and it wasn't until halfway through the three-hour morning session that the team decided that conditions had picked up sufficiently to send their drivers out for their first flying laps.
Mardenborough was quick to set his best time of the day, and in so doing became the only man with a time under 85 seconds on Wednesday. His time is already faster than the pole lap set by Alex Lynn in last year's GP3 round at the circuit which clocked in at 1:35.614s.
The Briton's team mate Antonio Fuoco had initially joined his Carlin compatriot at the top of the timesheets with his time of 1:35.213s, but he quickly found himself deposed from the runners-up spot as the session continued to run. In the end it was Jenzer Motorsport's Pal Varhaug who ended the session in second, a little under a tenth of a second off Mardenborough time.
Fuoco was eventually forced down to sixth place in the morning standings after his time was also beaten by ART's Marvin Kirchhöfer, Jenzer's Ralph Boschung, and Koiranen GP's Jimmy Eriksson Kirchhöfer and Eriksson both set their best times after the first red flag of the day had been triggered by Samin Gomez stopping his Campos Racing racing at the exit of turn 5.
After the two-hour lunch break allowing the drivers to work on tweaking the set-ups on their cars, Status Grand Prix's Seb Morris was quick to lay down a flying lap of 1:35.740s, and that effort proved good enough to keep him at the top of the time sheets for the rest of the afternoon.
Campos Racing's Alex Palou initially went into second place with a time of 1:36.578s to show that surgery last week for a collarbone injury sustained while on a training exercise on his bike wasn't about to hold him back. The action was then put on pause as a light rain shower swept over the area, but the drivers were soon back in action again, which took the edge of the track conditions for the rest of the afternoon and initially suppressed lap times by as much as four seconds compared to the morning stint.
As the rain stopped and the sun made a cautious return to help dry out the track, the drivers continued working to re-lay the rubber that had been washed off the racing line. Sure enough, with 45 minutes remaining there was a refresh to the top three. While Morris retained the top spot, second place now went to the morning pace setter Mardenborough who got within a tenth of Morris' pre-rain pace, while third was taken over by to Korainen's Matt Parry who managed to put in a time almost two tenths faster than Palou.
A second red flag for the day came out with seven minutes remaining on the clock when Fuoco's Carlin stopped on track at turn 3. There were less than a couple of minutes remaining when the track went green again, and that meant that there was no time for anyone to have a chance to upset the top three before the chequered flag came out. Palou ended the afternoon in fourth place ahead of Status Grand Prix pair Alex Fontana and Sandy Stuvik.
The drivers are back in action on Thursday for two more three hour sessions, albeit with just a single hour for lunch to allow the teams to finish slightly earlier than today at 4pm local time in order to pack up their equipment and put it all into storage so that it will be ready for the GP3 season opener at Barcelona in just over two weeks time on May 8-10.
See full times from day 1 of pre-season testing at Barcelona