Kamui Kobayashi showed that there was no substitute for experience as he dominated the first group test of the GP2 Series off-season by topping the times in all four half-day sessions at Paul Ricard.
The DAMS team driver returned to GP2's 'spiritual home' to both prepare for the forthcoming Asia Series and try out younger talent with an eye to next summer, with Kobayashi - the veteran of one regular season - being joined by British F3 Euroseries racers Sam Bird and James Jakes over the two days.
Despite having been frustrated by his results in the recently-completed summer series - where he added just one win to the success he enjoyed in the inaugural Asia Series last winter, the Toyota protégé showed his true potential over two largely dry days in the south of France to leave the field chasing a 1min 12.828secs benchmark.
“In GP2, experience pays off, and I think we've showed that during this test session," Kobayashi noted, "I know the circuit, the car and the team. My engineers and I have our own reflexes and our way of working. This translated itself into four quickest times on the trot - and it's not down to luck. It bodes well for the coming season and it boosts the whole team's morale.”
The next GP2 test will take place over 29-30 October but, by then DAMS and eleven of its regular rivals will have embarked on the second Asia Series campaign, which kicks off at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai early next month. A two-day series test is scheduled a week prior the first race, over 8-9 October.
“At last we've set the best time on the Paul Ricard circuit, and we did it in style as nobody beat us over the two days" delighted team manager Eric Boullier enthused, "Bravo to Kamui, who was exceptional throughout."