Nelson Piquet Jr emerged as the pacesetter on day one of the final GP2 Series group test at Paul Ricard, but not before the fastest man in the morning session had all his times deleted.

Piquet improved the day's best lap by four-tenths of a second to come out on top of the 24 pilots in action, but the real talking point was the series' decision to scrub all of Jose Maria's laps after his Super Nova car was found to contravene the weight regulations by being too light. This left the Argentine powerless to respond to his Brazilian rival, despite his promising early form.

Piquet moved to the head of the field with a last-gasp lap that proved good enough to prevent GP2 new boy Timo Glock from stealing all the day's headlines. The German, who appears to be considering a switch to GP2 despite winning this year's Champ Car rookie title, wound up nearly three-tenths shy of Piquet, but still created a strong impression on his first run in the ART Grand Prix car. Glock will be unable to build on that performance as he hands over to expected ART 2006 pilot Lewis Hamilton for the final day of testing tomorrow [Friday].

Macau F3 Grand Prix winner Lucas di Grassi made up for a disappointing morning in the Durango Dallara by moving up to third overall in the afternoon session. His lap of 1min 16.139secs - set in what was generally the quicker of the two sessions - was good enough to push BCN's Andreas Zuber back to fifth overall, despite an improvement, with 'team-mate' Borja Garcia vaulting from plum last before lunch into the top six by the close of play. Franck Perera, running with DAMS this week, placed sixth in the later session, but his morning time was good enough for a top four spot overall.

The afternoon session was again highly competitive, with the whole field closing up to be covered by only three seconds. Behind the top six, Hayanari Shimoda (ART), Milos Pavlovic (Super Nova), Olivier Pla (DPR) and Luca Filippi (Coloni) completed the best ten, while Alexandre Negrao (Piquet), Alvaro Parente (Arden), Michael Ammermuller (Arden), rookie Mike Conway (iSport) and Ferdinando Monfardini (DAMS) all slipped back. Conway's partner at iSport for the day, Stephen Kane, continued his promising performance with 13th place to go with his eleventh from the morning.

Leading performances - Paul Ricard (combined sessions):

Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet 1m 16.480s 1m 15.799s 49/25Timo Glock ART 1m 16.546s 1m 16.069s 40/31Lucas di Grassi Durango 1m 17.828s 1m 16.139s 27/25Franck Perera DAMS 1m 16.200s 1m 16.373s 35/41Andreas Zuber BCN 1m 16.421s 1m 16.222s 36/38Borja Garcia BCN 1m 25.345s 1m 16.313s 7/20Hayanari Shimoda ART 1m 17.820s 1m 16.414s 32/33Alvaro Parente Arden 1m 16.465s 1m 16.757 27/25Milos Pavlovic Super Nova 1m 17.407s 1m 16.618s 39/39Olivier Pla DPR 1m 17.376s 1m 16.673s 32/27Luca Filippi Coloni 1m 17.378s 1m 16.680s 33/19Alexandre Negrao Piquet 1m 17.159s 1m 16.737s 53/28Stephen Kane iSport 1m 17.357s 1m 16.777s 36/21Michael Ammermuller Arden 1m 16.853s 1m 16.938s 42/31Mike Conway iSport 1m 17.139s 1m 17.097s 41/32Ferdinando Monfardini DAMS 1m 17.263s 1m 17.159s 33/44Bruce Jouanny Coloni 1m 17.486s 1m 17.206s 39/29Juan Cruz Alvarez Racing Engineering 1m 17.798s 1m 17.215s 37/40Alvaro Barba Campos 1m 17.421s 1m 17.265s 39/35Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 17.751s 1m 18.191s 44/30Sean McIntosh DPR 1m 17.974s 1m 17.477s 53/45Jason Tahinci Campos 1m 19.295s 1m 18.479s 43/49Thomas Biagi Durango 1m 19.286s 1m 18.620s 40/37

Jose Maria Lopez Super Nova times deleted for weight infringement

[times in bold are best across two sessions, shown AM and PM; laps in each session also shown AM/PM]


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