Lewis Hamilton set the quickest lap of a wet second day of GP2 Series testing at Paul Ricard, before increasingly heavy rain brought a premature end to the session and prevented anyone from challenging Nelson Piquet Jr's time from day one.

The Briton returned to the cockpit of the ART Grand Prix Dallara he is expected to occupy next season, raking up another 37 laps as he again paced the session, setting a 1min 28.173secs benchmark that no-one proved able to match.

Piquet, who had snatched top spot on day one, proved to be Hamilton's closest challenger, but was three-tenths adrift of the Briton when the session was halted as a sudden deluge and the onset of thick fog called safety at the French circuit into question.

Olivier Pla was third fastest for DPR, the only other driver to duck below the 1min 29secs barrier, while Lucas di Grassi maintained his current good form with another strong showing in fourth place. This time, however, the Brazilian was driving for Super Nova International, having run with Durango on day one, and clocked the third fastest lap. As a result of his impressive showings no matter which team he has run with, the Macau Grand Prix winner would seem assured of a place on the grid alongside Hamilton, Piquet and Pla in 2006.

After taking a day out on Thursday, Ernesto Viso returned to the fray for a final fling before the Christmas break, claiming fifth for iSport International, one of the teams apparently on the Venezuelan's wishlist, alongside former employer BCN and others, for 2006. Rookie Andreas Zuber was sixth for the Spanish outfit, backing up the top five spot he took for Enrique Scalabroni on day one.

Luca Filippi took seventh for Coloni, which is being linked to a possible partnership with his former employer, Fisichella Motorsport, for next season, with Danilo Dirani underlining the latent competitiveness of Campos Racing with eighth place, backing up di Grassi's Jerez performance with the team.

Series veterans Alex Negrao and Ferdinando Monfardini rounded out the top ten, ahead of the impressive Mike Conway, who claimed eleventh spot on his first outing with DPR. The Briton had run strongly for iSport on day one, and suggested that he could be a potential frontrunner should he decide to step from F3 after just one year.

Behind Jose Maria Lopez, who returned to the timesheets with Racing Engineering after having every one of his laps deleted for a weight infringement on Thursday, Adrian Sutil made his first appearance in a GP2 car, having linked up with Super Nova. The F3 Euroseries runner-up headed Bruce Jouanny and Hayanari Shimoda in the top 15, with Kiwi Matt Halliday taking 16th on his GP2 debut.

The F1 feeder series now takes a break from the rigours of testing until the New Year, when the first 26-car GP2 series test takes place following the creation of a 13th team entry for Trident Racing.

Leading performances - Paul Ricard (morning session):

Lewis Hamilton ART 1m 28.173s 37 lapsNelson Piquet Jr Piquet 1m 28.489s 55Olivier Pla DPR 1m 28.834s 42Lucas di Grassi Super Nova 1m 29.294s 31Ernesto Viso iSport 1m 29.322s 46Andreas Zuber BCN 1m 29.541s 35Luca Filippi Coloni 1m 30.384s 27Danilo Dirani Campos 1m 30.408s 37Alexandre Negrao Piquet 1m 30.475s 49Ferdinando Monfardini DAMS 1m 30.597s 37Mike Conway DPR 1m 30.777s 44Jose Maria Lopez Racing Engineering 1m 30.785s 33Adrian Sutil Super Nova 1m 30.936s 42Bruce Jouanny Coloni 1m 31.520s 25Hayanari Shimoda ART 1m 31.880s 43Matthew Halliday DAMS 1m 31.951s 43Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 32.074s 42Alvaro Barba Campos 1m 32.279s 47Tristan Gommendy iSport 1m 32.948s 19Franck Perera Arden 1m 33.349s 24Jason Tahinci Durango 1m 33.511s 17Davide Valsecchi Durango 1m 33.875s 35Christian Montanari BCN 1m 34.128s 41Nicolas Lapierre Arden 1m 36.239s 20

Leading performances - Paul Ricard (1-2 December):

Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet 1m 15.799sTimo Glock ART 1m 16.069sLucas di Grassi Durango 1m 16.139sFranck Perera DAMS 1m 16.200sAndreas Zuber BCN 1m 16.222sBorja Garcia BCN 1m 16.313sHayanari Shimoda ART 1m 16.414sAlvaro Parente Arden 1m 16.465sMilos Pavlovic Super Nova 1m 16.618sOlivier Pla DPR 1m 16.673sLuca Filippi Coloni 1m 16.680sAlexandre Negrao Piquet 1m 16.737sStephen Kane iSport 1m 16.777sMichael Ammermuller Arden 1m 16.853sMike Conway iSport 1m 17.097sFerdinando Monfardini DAMS 1m 17.159sBruce Jouanny Coloni 1m 17.206sJuan Cruz Alvarez Racing Engineering 1m 17.215sAlvaro Barba Campos 1m 17.421s 1m 17.265sJavier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 17.751sSean McIntosh DPR 1m 17.477sJason Tahinci Campos 1m 18.479sThomas Biagi Durango 1m 18.620sLewis Hamilton ART 1m 28.173s* Lucas di Grassi Super Nova 1m 29.294s* Ernesto Viso iSport 1m 29.322s* Danilo Dirani Campos 1m 30.408s* Mike Conway DPR 1m 30.777s* Jose Maria Lopez Racing Engineering 1m 30.785s* Adrian Sutil Super Nova 1m 30.936s* Matthew Halliday DAMS 1m 31.951s* Tristan Gommendy iSport 1m 32.948s* Franck Perera Arden 1m 33.349s* Jason Tahinci Durango 1m 33.511s* Davide Valsecchi Durango 1m 33.875s* Christian Montanari BCN 1m 34.128s* Nicolas Lapierre Arden 1m 36.239s*

Jose Maria Lopez Super Nova day one times deleted for weight infringement

[where drivers tested with more than one team, slower performances shown in italics; * denotes time set on day two of test]


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