Formula One 'veteran' Antonio Pizzonia posted the fastest lap of the day as GP2
Series testing resumed after a short break at the Jerez
de la Frontera circuit in southern Spain.
The Brazilian again showed himself to be comfortable behind the wheel of the series' Dallara-Renault combination as he took the FMS International team to top spot in a time of 1min 27.184secs, almost three-quarters of a second faster than his closest competitor, and blitzing the morning benchmark set by GP2
debutant Pastor Maldonado.
Only sixth fastest in the first session, Pizzonia found over two seconds in the FMSI machine to leap to the top of the times, pushing Paul Ricard pacesetter Franck Perera back into second spot. The Frenchman returned to the fray with Durango, having enjoyed a successful one-day outing on home soil only last week, and finished the day as the only other driver to break into in the 1min 27secs bracket. Fellow Ricard test pacesetter Luca Filippi was unable to replicate his performance with Super Nova at Jerez, however, the Italian taking 14th spot on the combined timesheets.
Another F1 refugee and accomplished GP2
veteran, Giorgio Pantano, took third as he entered his third test with the underdog Campos Racing squad, but was almost a second off Pizzonia's ultimate pace, while British F3
champion Mike Conway showed his true potential by taking fourth place on the overall timesheets. The Briton, who has two GP2
races under his belt following a stand-in role with DPR at last year's Silverstone
round, was running with iSport International on this occasion and enjoyed the sort of performance that allowed Paul Jackson's team to take a top three spot overall in 2006.
In all, the top nine runners in the afternoon session beat Maldonado's morning benchmark, with Jose Maria Lopez taking fifth as he continued to run with BCN Competicion. The Argentine is thought likely to sign for Enrique Scalabroni's squad should he remain in GP2
for a third year and continues to post useful testing times, his Jerez
mark proving that he is more than a Paul Ricard specialist.
The DAMS duo of rookie Kazuki Nakajima and veteran Nicolas Lapierre were next up, taking sixth and seventh and being split by just 0.034secs. Durango's 2006 campaigner Lucas di Grassi joined Conway at iSport and clocked the eighth-best time, pushing him just ahead of World Series by Renault frontrunner Maldonado, who improved his morning time by just a tenth as partnered Lopez at BCN.
Xandi Negrao and Christian Bakkerud slotted in behind the Venezuelan, both setting an identical 1min 28.974secs lap time but failing to better Maldonado's morning target. It was a successful day for Arden-mounted Bakkerud, however, who had had to cut short his last test, with iSport, due to ill-health.
The Dane edged GP2
veteran Ernesto Viso by 0.014secs as the Venezuelan finally completed the run with champions ART Grand Prix that had initially been scheduled for Paul Ricard last week. The French team returned to action in Spain having decided to shelve its previous testing plans following the death of engineer Steeve Marcel.
With the afternoon session proving generally faster than the morning, as is often the case, there were only a handful of notable efforts to report before lunch. Among them, Vitaly Petrov posted his best showing in a GP2
car to take eleventh spot. The Russian was running with Piquet Sports on this occasion, but is looking to impress other potential employers as the Brazilian-owned team is the one squad to have finalised its 2007 line-up already.