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GP3: Leclerc sets new track record on final day of testing

Charles Leclerc returned to ART for the final day of post season testing in Abu Dhabi, and duly went back to the top of the timesheets as well.
Charles Leclerc set the fastest time of the three-day GP3 post season test session at Abu Dhabi, meaning that ART finished the year off in the same dominant fashion that had been the hallmark of their entire 2015 season.

The early morning pace was set by Matt Parry who was back at Koiranen GP again, with Leclerc in second as he returned to ART after spending Thursday moonlighting in the Arden garage in the usual game of musical chairs played by teams and drivers during post-season testing.

Parry was first to dip below 1:56s in the session but he was soon bettered by Arden's Jake Hughes, whose team mate Kevin Joerg soon went better still to outpace Hughes by an impressive three tenths. Meanwhile Leclerc was getting steadily faster and rising back up the timesheets until finally the Monaco-born driver posted a lap of 1:55.115s on the 3.451-mile, 21-turn circuit late in the two and a half hour session to put the matter beyond all doubt.

Joerg held on to second place in the final session standings, just ahead of Leclerc's team mate Alex Albon who pipped Hughes for third. EuroFormula Open racer Leonardo Pulcini was fifth for Trident, pushing early pacesetter Parry down to sixth place ahead of Status Grand Prix's Jack Aitken and Campos Racing's Konstantin Tereshchenko.

The session saw two red flags, the first triggered by Santino Ferrucci (Status Grand Prix) stopping on track and the second a slightly longer delay after Nabil Jeffri (Koiranen GP) made contact with the barrier at turn 20 and damaged his rear wing.

After lunch, Arden's Ralph Boschung was first to take up the running but inevitably it wasn't long before Leclerc once again returned to the top of the timing screens. Joerg once again featured strongly and briefly went to the head of the field, but then Leclerc put the matter beyond all doubt with a lap of 1:54.571s that was half a second quicker than anyone had managed in the previous sessions and which in the process also broke Marvin Kirchhofer's existing 2014 GP3 track record for the circuit, putting the matter of who would end the week fastest beyond all doubt.

To his credit, Joerg didn't give up and by the time the chequered flag came out to end the test he had managed to get to within almost two tenths of Leclerc's blistering pace, while the only other driver to get underneath the 1:55s mark was Joeg's team mate Jake Hughes.

Pulcini improved one place over his morning showing with fourth place ahead of Tereshchenko, while ART's Alex Albon held off Matt Parry and Jack Aitken for sixth place in the final classification. There were no red flags for the final session, which finished on time allowing the teams to get to work packing up their equipment for the off-season.

There will be further pre-season test sessions arranged for the teams next April, ahead of the start of the 2016 season which is expected to take place alongside the F1 Russian Grand Prix at Sochi at the start of May.

See full test times from day 1 of post-season testing at Abu Dhabi
See full test times from day 2 of post-season testing at Abu Dhabi
See full test times from day 3 of post-season testing at Abu Dhabi



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (FRA, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (FRA, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
Charles Leclerc, ART Grand Prix, GP3 [Credit: XPB]
Charles Leclerc - ART   [pic credit: GP3 Media]
Norman Nato - Racing Engineering
Charles Leclerc - ART Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc, ART Grand Prix, GP3 [Credit: XPB]
Jake Hughes - DAMS [credit: GP3 Series]
Jake Hughes - DAMS [credit: GP3 Series]
Ralph Boschung - Koiranen GP
Jakes Hughes, DAMS, GP3 [Credit: Jake Hughes PR]
Jack Aitken, Arden, GP3 [Credit: Jack Aitken PR]
2015 GP2 Series Test 3. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 4 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. Friday 4 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. Friday 4 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. Friday 4 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. Friday 4 December 2015. Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Test 4. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Wednesday 2 December 2015. Charles Leclerc (MON, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

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