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GP2: Matsushita finishes post-season test on top for ART

ART's Nobuharu Matsushita rounded out a strong test for the 2015 team champions on Friday, but DAMS' Nicholas Latifi was the fastest man of the week.
Having clinched every GP2 and GP3 title going in 2015, it was no surprise that ART should close out the final track action of the year with another dominant showing as Nobuharu Matsushita put in the fastest time on Friday

The final day started off in cooler conditions than previously encountered during the week up to now. Richie Stanaway had returned to Carlin and duly set the early pace with a time of 1:49.418s on the 3.451-mile, 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit before Rapax's André Negrao shaved a further tenth to go top of the timing screens.

Midway through the two and a half session, Oliver Rowland put DAMS at the top and lowered the target time to 1:48.926s and it was only in the final moments before the chequered flag that Evans was able to top that by four thousandths of a second. Behind Evans and Rowlands it was a brace of Rapax drivers with Luca Ghiotto just pipping Negrao to third by less than a tenth, while Sergey Sirotkin put PREMA Racing into fifth place ahead of Matsushita and Tio Ellinas who had turned out for Trident.

There were four red flags during the session, all of them relatively brief and minor affairs. Sean Gelael spun and stopped at turn 18 in the Campos Racing car early in the session, and Artur Janosz (Trident) ground to a halt on the back straight shortly after the restart. Early pacesetter Stanaway was the cause of the third stoppage when he came to a halt at turn 16 an hour into the session, while Pierre Gasly's PREMA Racing car stopped at turn 9 with gearbox problems with half an hour remaining.

That meant Gasly was only to put in four laps in total in the afternoon session, and unfortunately his car was subsequently deemed to be running underweight in the evening session which meant that his later times were excluded form the results.

Once the action resumed under the floodlights, there was a very early red flag when MP Motorsports' Salvatore Del Plano stopped at the exit of turn 1. After that the remainder of the session settled down and ran uninterrupted, with Evans picking up where he left off in the afternoon to lead the times with a lap of 1:49.025s narrowly ahead of MP Motorsport's Nick Yelloly after the first half hour.

The next 30 minutes saw improved times from Matsushita, day 2 pace setter Nicholas Latifi (DAMS), Marlon Stockinger (ART) and Oliver Rowland, with Evan's subsequent counter enough to restore him to third place behind Matsushita and Latifi going into the final hour of testing.

The final runs saw a number of improved laps, with Sirotkin going into third place ahead of Rowland, and Ghiotto climbing to fifth in front of Negrao, and Russian Time's Artem Markelov finishing the session as seventh fastest ahead of Stockinger, Stanaway and Yelloly. However, none of the laps in the final hour were enough to push Matsushita from the top.

Similarly Latifi was still in second place in the session when the chequered flag came out. The Canadian also took the honours of having set the fastest time of the entire three-day test, with his lap of 1:47.860s on Thursday not having been bettered by anyone, and almost half a second faster than Matsushita's Friday best.

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

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