GP2 Series rookie Franck Perera marked himself out as a potential threat for wins, if not the overall title, by topping the times on the second day of group testing at the Citcuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

The Frenchman, who graduates to the F1 feeder series from the F3 Euroseries this season, held off an afternoon challenge from fellow newcomer Lewis Hamilton to record his first fastest test time of the pre-season. Hamilton finished the afternoon session at the top of the timesheets, but nobody could get close to Perera's stunning morning time.

Perera's DAMS Dallara made full use of the traditional opening hour pace provided by the Circuit de Catalunya, posting what turned out to be the best lap of the day after only 45 minutes. The 1min 22.467secs effort lasted throughout the morning and then proved too good for Hamilton, a pacesetter at several winter sessions.

ART Grand Prix driver Hamilton finished the afternoon session with a lap of 1min 23.510secs, almost a second slower than Perera's best as many teams concentrated on long runs in preparation for the first race of the season, in Valencia, next weekend.

Hamilton set what was an all-time series best of 1min 23.003secs in the opening part of the morning session but, with a number of drivers on equally quick laps, the time looked certain to be bettered, with Ernesto Viso returning his iSport International entry to the top of the times by three-tenths on the half-hour mark. The Venezuelan's mark lasted just 15 minutes, however, before Perera set his record time.

Alex Premat bounced back from a disappointing opening day by finishing the morning in fourth place to enhance the ART effort ahead of compatriot Nicolas Lapierre, who led the Arden International challenge. The top six was completed by another Frenchman, with Tristan Gommendy enjoying his best day at the wheel of the second iSport car, while Alexandre Negrao continued his solid run of form with seventh spot for Piquet Sports, ahead of Adrian Valles - again placing the leading Campos car higher than expected - Jose Maria Lopez and the second DAMS car of Ferdinando Monfardini, neatly book-ending the top ten.

The afternoon proved to be generally slower than the high-speed opening session, but Piquet Sports' Nelson Piquet Jr underlined his day one pace with second spot, and Gommendy confirmed both his and iSport's potential in third.

Clivio Piccione gave DPR Direxiv another welcome filip by taking fourth spot in what proved to be the British team's most competitive outing of the year - not hard after its frustrating Paul Ricard test - while Campos rookie Felix Porteiro also received a boost with the fifth best time. Likewise, Sergio Hernandez turned his fortunes turned as he out-did Durango team-mate Lucas di Grassi to take sixth spot.

Michael Ammermuller completed a solid test for Arden International in seventh, with Super Nova's Lopez again featuring in the top ten. Olivier Pla's ninth place saw both DPR Direxiv drivers in the top ten for the first time, while Premat rounded out the top ten on a good day for reigning champion ART.

The only notable incident of the day befell Andreas Zuber, who ended the morning session in the barriers after the biggest off of the pre-season. Although the Austrian was unhurt in the incident, the Trident mechanics faced a hectic - and ultimately fruitless - race against time to get its second car back on track.

The series now moves straight on to Valencia for its final pre-season test, before enjoying its official launch and first race weekend of the year next weekend.


Loading Comments...