The pace cranked up a notch for day two of the first World Series by Renault group test at Jerez, as drivers smashed right through the category's track record, previously held by GP2 graduate Alvaro Parente.
Having chased Tech 1's Charles Pic on day one, Miguel Molina set the fastest time for Ultimate Signature, beating out Pic and Draco's Marco Barba in the process, as conditions proved conducive to go chasing records.
Pic started the day in the same way he had left off on Tuesday, but it was the rookie drivers who quickly came to the fore, with Chris van der Drift (Epsilon Euskadi), Greg Mansell (USR) and then Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) all taking it in turns to set the provisional fastest time.
''Overall, these two days of testing have been positive for me, as I am hitting the right pace,” Mansell commented, “The level of competition in the World Series is very high and the USR team takes a really refined approach to its work. It's the first time that I've driven at Jerez and it's a really nice circuit. The temperatures were ideal this morning for putting in a fast time, but in the afternoon, we did some pit-stop simulations and worked on the car under race conditions.''
Once Epsilon Euskadi's Adrian Valles had staked his claim with a lap of 1min 29.612secs that beat the record set last year by Parente, it set the tone for the rest of the day. Pic, on fresh rubber, decided it was time to have his say in things, the Tech 1 driver put in a whole series of quick laps to go top of the timing screens with a fastest lap of 1min 29.218secs, but it did not take Molin long to hit back. The Spaniard made a major breakthrough to go faster than the 1min 29secs mark with a lap in 1min 28.933secs. Barba, another - self-proclaimed - candidate for the title, also made his presence felt by setting the third fastest time.
''We have worked very hard here, testing out various different set-ups,” Pic revealed, “The car is responding well to this new aerodynamic configuration and we're putting in some excellent performances. It is a real opportunity for me to be a member of the Renault Driver Development program, but that doesn't mean I'll be approaching things any differently. It is great to have the benefit of the supervision and experience of the F1 people with RDD. But now it's up to me to put in a good season. I have come a long way since last season, having gained both in maturity and experience.''
Things calmed down slightly as the session drew to a close, with each of the drivers focusing more closely on how his car handled on worn tyres. Carlin rookie Oliver Turvey did, however, manage to make his way into fifth, just ahead of team-mate Alguersuari.
''I feel very comfortable with this car,” F3 graduate Turvey commented, “Jaime and I know each other very well and are used to working together, so I feel very at home with Carlin Motorsport too. I've got that sneaking feeling we are going to be competitive this season.''
Both Turvey and Alguersuari used their new tyre allocation in the morning session, and Turvey appeared to have the edge on his team-mate, producing a best time just 0.124secs quicker than the current British F3 champion as both drivers testing numerous set-up changes. The two rookies ended the test as the quickest newcomers, in fifth and sixth respectively.
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