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Bonanomi sets Barcelona tempo
1 January 1901
Marco Bonanomi snatched the early advantage as the World Series by Renault teams met for their second group test of the season in Spain.
Unaffected by the sort of conditions that blighted the first outing in Valencia, the squads set about honing the new Dallara package at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, with Bonanomi waiting until the very end of the opening day to move to the top of the timesheets.
The Red Devil Comtec driver ended the session ahead of Draco's Marco Barba and Carlin's Robert Wickens as all 13 teams were finally able to get both their new cars out on track, rather than having to share a single machine between their two drivers, as in the opening test. While that meant that, for some, the day began, effectively, with a running-in session, others were up and running from the start.
Series newcomer Ultimate Signature got off to an inauspicious start as Fabio Carbone succumbed to a badly tightened oil coupling, which caused his car to catch fire. The Brazilian wasn't able to get back on track again until the end of the opening session, and recorded mid-table times.
P1 Motorsport's Giedo van der Garde was the first driver out, but the first significant lap times were a while in coming. For the first hour, the name at the top of the standings changed with alarming regularity before Prema's Alvaro Barba took charge of the situation, with Bonanomi, team-mate Miguel Molina, van der Garde and Wickens in pursuit.
Improving the benchmark to 1min 35.858secs, van der Garde then took over the lead but, as is so often the case, everything was to change in the last hour of the morning session. Having been bumped off top spot, van der Garde wrested the leadership back once again with a min 35.229secs lap, with Tech 1's Charles Pic moving into second place ahead of Russian Daniil Move, who pushed his KTR entry into third ahead of Alvaro Barba and Pablo Sanchez.
Lap times were considerably bettered in the course of the afternoon session, however, with Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin the first to oust van der Garde from top spot. But, as in the morning, it was the same drivers that stood out, as Wickens, van der Garde and Bonanomi took control of the timesheets. Belgian Bertrand Baguette and Draco team-mate Marco Barba also muscled their way up into the fight, with the Spaniard briefly grabbing the best provisional time on 1min 33.745secs.
Bonanomi then made his move, taking the best time of the day in 1min 33.478secs, before warning the rest of the field that there was still more to come from him and Comtec.
"It's really important to get into a good rhythm," he noted, "I have good feelings with this car, even if I'm not yet completely at ease with the brakes. We should be quicker tomorrow, but I can only take part in the morning session, as I have to head off to compete in the last GP2 Asia race in Dubai. The main thing is to be ready for Monza."