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GP2: Matsushita sets the pace on first day of testing

ART's Nobuharu Matsushita was in top form on the first day of post-season testing for the GP2 teams at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
There was no stopping ART's Nobuharu Matsushita on Wednesday, as the Japanese driver demonstrated that he was in top form throughout the first day of GP2 post-season testing at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

In the first two-and-a-half-hour that started at noon, Matsushita topped the times with a lap of 1:49.180s on the 3.451-mile, 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit putting him a little over a tenth ahead of DAMS' Alex Lynn, both drivers starting the test by staying on with the teams that had been behind their maiden campaigns in the feeder series in 2015.

Norman Nato likewise remained at the wheel of his familiar Arden and was third fastest, while Oliver Rowland moved to his third team of the year with a trial at ART having competed during the season first with MP Motorsport and then with Status Grand Prix. On this occasion the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion was fourth fastest ahead of Pierre Gasly who has moved to series newcomers PREMA Racing for the day, vacating his old seat at DAMS in favour of Nicholas Latifi who was sixth fastest.

There was only one interruption to the session, with the proceedings briefly red flagged to collect some debris after Campos Racing's Sean Gelael clipped the barrier at turn 19, although the Indonesian driver was able to re-join the track and return to the pits without assistance.

In contrast to the searing midday heat, the evening session - which saw a display of fireworks celebrating the National Day in the United Arab Emirates - was held in the relative cool under the floodlights which made for significantly faster lap times.

Racing Engineering's Jordan King set the early pace but it wasn't long before Matsushita was in charge of the proceedings again with a lap clocking in at 1:48.909s which put him four tenths ahead of his team mate for the day Rowland.

Rowland closed the gap, but it was Carlin's Richie Stanaway who finally went faster than Matsushita to claim a place on the top of the timing screens by a tenth, only to be ousted himself by DAMS's Nicholas Latifi who set a new benchmark of 1:48.418s.

Gasly moved into second place and MP Motorsport's Nick Yelloly slotted into third, but with 15 minutes to go in the session Matsushita applied himself once more and set what proved to be the best lap of the session of the day with a time of 1:47.903s which was almost half a second faster than Latifi's earlier gambit.

The teams return to action for more testing on Thursday. The first session once again gets underway at noon local time (8am GMT), with the second after sunset at 6pm local time (2pm GMT) under the glare of the floodlights.

See full times from the first day of GP2 post-season test at Abu Dhani

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
Gustav Malja F2 2017
Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, F2, Formula 2, Bahrain
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Artem Markelov, F2, Bahrain
Artem Markelov
Norman Nato, Bahrain F2 2017, Formula 2
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, Formula 2, 2017
Nabil Jeffri, Team Trident [Credit: Team Trident]
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix [GP2 Series]
Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing

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