A1 Team France continued its impressive performance in pre-season testing with Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Premat both setting top three times on the first two days of A1 Grand Prix group testing at Paul Ricard.

The team began the opening day by giving FIA GT frontrunner Christophe Bouchut his first run in a single-seater for ten years, the veteran setting the twelfth fastest time of the morning before handing over to GP2 regular Lapierre for the afternoon session. The French car ran faultlessly all day as the team continued to develop its set-up for the first race meeting of the season, at Brands Hatch, on 25 September. Lapierre finally secured the team in third place, with a lap of 1min 25.095secs, despite running on new tyres very early in the afternoon.

"I am pleased with our work this afternoon, as we developed a good set-up and improved the balance of the car," the youngster reported, "Third fastest is good as we set the time in the middle of the afternoon. Christophe flat-spotted his last set of tyres and we could not use them for many laps, so I am confident that we could have easily been second fastest had we run with a new set at the end of the day. I look forward to driving the car again on Friday morning."

Lapierre handed over to GP2 rival Premat for the second day, and the French team responded by moving ahead of Brazil to claim second place on the timesheets behind Team USA. Premat set his best time during the morning session, and also reckoned that there was more to come from both himself and the car.

"This morning went well, but we could have gone slightly quicker as I made two small mistakes on my best lap," he reported, "Nicolas did a great job with the set-up of the car yesterday and the balance was good this morning when we started.

"The car has improved since the first test at Silverstone, but Paul Ricard is longer than the lay-out we had at Silverstone, with more corners, so it is harder to find the best set-up. This afternoon was more difficult as we ran with the harder compounds supplied by Cooper and the car was harder to drive. We worked on the set-up but Nicolas will have to do more work tomorrow morning."

"I was very pleased with Nicolas's work on Wednesday afternoon, and with Alex's efforts today," team principal Jean-Paul Driot commented, "Nicolas drove really well, worked closely with his race engineer and continued to develop the car. His fastest lap was very good and he put the team back towards the top of the timesheets, which is excellent.

"As planned, Alexandre drove all day today. He had a small moment on his third flying lap with new tyres, just as he was overtaking another car, but, nevertheless, he set the second fastest time of the day, which is impressive. However, I am sure Nicolas will improve that time tomorrow morning. The car ran very reliably again and, today, we were running in the low 24s as expected in our simulations, but I believe that, tomorrow morning, we will be even faster.

"We are happy with our progress so far, and we have collected a lot of information. I enjoyed the rolling start practice at the end of today - it was a good rehearsal and we could smell the racing atmosphere which we will enjoy during the season. I cannot wait for the 25th September at Brands Hatch."



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