Fortec Motorsport's Sam Bird set the fastest time in Wednesday's official Formula Renault UK test at Donington Park Grand Prix circuit ahead of the series' biggest race meeting of the year supporting the World Series by Renault.

The 19-year-old's time of 1min 30.152s was almost exactly a second under the lap record set by Joe D'Agostino at last year's corresponding race meeting, with Bird's team-mate Sebastian Hohenthal second quickest and Mark Burdett Motorsport's Markus Niemel? third.

Rounds eleven and twelve of the Formula Renault UK Championship were held on the Donington Park National circuit, but this was Bird's first time driving the 2.50-mile Grand Prix circuit.

After switching to new tyres in the second half of the session, Bird's time on his third lap with new rubber was good enough to hold off the challenge of his rivals for the final quarter of the three hour session and he completed just 39 laps, while more than half of the field completed 50 laps or more.

Championship leader Patrick Hogan finished in fourth place, 0.519s behind Bird and will renew his battle with title rival Hohenthal in Saturday's single qualifying session, which determines the grid for both of Sunday's races. Each driver's fastest time will determine the grid for race one, with their second fastest time establishing the grid for race two.

Championship newcomers Daniel Welch, racing for Welch Motorsport, and Coles Racing's Oli Poyser finished 20th and 22nd respectively, Poyser rounding out the group of drivers within two seconds of the leader's time.

"I'm very pleased for myself and the team and we're looking strong for the weekend," Bird said on topping the times. "I now need to focus on qualifying and hopefully get two front-row positions to give me the best possible chance for the race.

"[My accident earlier in the year] is not in my mind at all this week. It looked bad on television and it didn't feel great in the car either, but I'm big enough and old enough to put it behind me and move on and I'm fully focussed on the job in hand this week."

 

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