A couple of unheralded names took the opportunity to head the respective morning and afternoon sessions as the World Series by Renault test at Paul Ricard moved into a third day.
Drawing on all the experience accumulated over the previous two - plus the season past - Daniil Move and Michael Herck set the pace for champions Tech 1 Racing and Prema Powerteam respectively, with the German ending the day fastest of all.
The third day of testing saw further changes to the line-up, with double race winner Miguel Molina turning out for Prema, Marco Romancini joining Move at Tech 1, Valtteri Bottas running for Epsilon Euskadi and Marco Bonanomi for Interwetten.com. There were also emotional scenes at Draco Racing, as the Morinis entrusted one of their cars to veteran Fabrice Walfisch, who raced for the Italian team in F300 back in 1999 before his career took a meandering course towards his current berth in the Porsche Supercup.
F3 Euroseries regular Dani Clos was the first driver to dip below the 1min 16secs mark as the day got underway, the Spaniard running with Epsilon Euskadi, but 2007 rival Edoardo Piscopo then propelled his Fortec Motorsport car into top spot. With half an hour to go, the action really heated up when the drivers put on a second set of tyres and, between the red flags caused by Fortec's Xavier Maassen and Comtec's Pasquale di Sabatino, Russian Move managed to get down to 1min 15.757secs to set the target for the afternoon session.
The weather remained clement for the final session of the week, and Herck wasted no time in making his mark. The session was then interrupted for the first time, with Cram Competition's Marcello Puglisi the culprit, allowing the teams to regroup. When the action resumed, Piscopo again took the lead, this time with a lap of 1min 16.151secs, before a succession of red flags followed as, lap after lap, Puglisi, Sabatino and Interwetten's Sergio Perez brought proceedings to a halt.
With 40 minutes remaining, Herck again showed that he could be a force to reckon with next season, lowering the benchmark to 1min 15.579secs, with Pons Racing's Aleix Alcaraz slipping in ahead of Piscopo, before being usurped in second spot by Molina.
"I'm happy with the days I've had here with the Pons and Prema teams," Herck commented after holding on to P1 until the final chequered flag, "Test sessions aren't races, but it's important to show what you're capable of. I feel like I've learnt more in three days of testing than in a whole season of racing. I'll be at Valencia for the next session!"
Move was equally pleased with his efforts, despite being pushed back to fifth in the afternoon session after failing to better his morning time.
"The team has helped me to improve and I'm glad to know that I can perform well in this car," he said, clearly impressed with the Tech 1 operation, "I made a mistake with my new tyres this afternoon, which was a pity because I could easily have got down to 1min 15.4secs."
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