Pastor Maldonado ended the opening day of GP2 Series testing at Jerez in southern Spain this week at the top of the timesheets - as the Venezuelan eyes a third season with a third different team in Formula 1's feeder category.

Having competed for Trident Racing during his rookie campaign in 2007, and Piquet Sports last year, the experienced double race-winner improved two spots from third position in the morning running to ultimately wind up at the head of the order to the tune of just under a tenth of a second for former championship-winning outfit ART Grand Prix.

Second-quickest at the close - and fastest in the morning - was GP2 regular Davide Valsecchi for Durango. On a newly resurfaced circuit and with the improved performance of the 2008-spec Dallara chassis, he was able to post a time of 1min 24.823secs - almost three seconds inside the existing GP2 lap record.

The Italian didn't have it all his own way early on, however, and was only narrowly ahead of F3 Euroseries title-winner Nico H?lkenberg, who slotted into second early on and third in the final reckoning in the second ART machine. Running with the same squad that took him to the F3 crown, the Williams F1 test driver was the only other man to dip below the 1min 25sec marker day-long.

Japanese F3 Euroseries graduate Koudai Tsukakoshi also impressed by placing second early on and ending the day fourth for Piquet Sports, just ahead of countryman Kamui Kobayashi (DAMS) - the man to beat in recent testing sessions both for the regular season and the Asia campaign.

Karun Chandhok slotted into sixth overall in the leading FMSI entry, with Andreas Zuber (Racing Engineering), Diego Nunes (Piquet Sports), Giedo van der Garde (iSport International) and Charles Pic (iSport International) completing the overall top ten.

Leading performances - AM session:

1. Davide ValsecchiDurango1m 24.823s21 laps
2. Nico H?lkenbergART GP1m 24.903s31 laps
3. Pastor MaldonadoART GP1m 25.025s27 laps
4. Koudai TsukakoshiPiquet1m 25.138s41 laps
5. Kamui KobayashiDAMS1m 25.213s28 laps
6. Diego NunesPiquet1m 25.545s43 laps
7. Giedo Van der GardeiSport1m 25.549s29 laps
8. Karun ChandhokFisichella1m 25.616s21 laps
9. Charles PiciSport1m 25.638s39 laps
10. Andreas ZuberRacing Engineering1m 25.665s24 laps
11. Vitaly PetrovCampos1m 25.740s28 laps
12. Luca FilippiSuper Nova1m 25.860s18 laps
13. Alvaro ParenteRacing Engineering1m 26.016s25 laps
14. Jerome D'AmbrosioDAMS1m 26.252s23 laps
15. James JakesSuper Nova1m 26.497s31 laps
16. Michael HerckDPR1m 26.508s26 laps
17. Davide RigonCampos1m 26.546s33 laps
18. Marcello PuglisiDurango1m 26.573s33 laps
19. Edoardo MortaraTrident1m 26.854s34 laps
20. Christian EbbesvikArden1m 26.874s31 laps
21. Chris van der DriftTrident1m 26.990s33 laps
22. Carlo van DamFisichella1m 27.167s32 laps
23. Luis RaziaArden1m 27.666s32 laps
24. Sten PentusDPR1m 28.075s25 laps

Leading performances - PM session:

1. Pastor MaldonadoART GP1m 24.727s29 laps
2. Koudai TsukakoshiPiquet1m 25.015s26 laps
3. Kamui KobayashiDAMS1m 25.025s32 laps
4. Nico H?lkenbergART GP1m 25.063s27 laps
5. Karun ChandhokFisichella1m 25.255s33 laps
6. Andreas ZuberRacing Engineering1m 25.437s37 laps
7. Davide ValsecchiDurango1m 25.539s22 laps
8. Diego NunesPiquet1m 25.605s32 laps
9. Alvaro ParenteRacing Engineering1m 25.667s28 laps
10. Vitaly PetrovCampos1m 25.747s32 laps
11. Charles PiciSport1m 25.755s35 laps
12. Giedo Van der GardeiSport1m 25.831s26 laps
13. Luca FilippiSuper Nova1m 25.860s30 laps
14.Jerome D'AmbrosioDAMS1m 26.055s24 laps
15. Chris van der DriftTrident1m 26.345s28 laps
16. Davide RigonCampos1m 26.390s43 laps
17. Michael HerckDPR1m 26.514s36 laps
18. Marcello PuglisiDurango1m 26.607s30 laps
19. Edoardo MortaraTrident1m 26.803s39 laps
20. Christian EbbesvikArden1m 27.158s28 laps
21. Sten PentusDPR1m 27.443s35 laps
22. James JakesSuper Nova1m 27.459s10 laps
23. Luis RaziaArden1m 28.064s27 laps
24. Carlo van DamFisichella1m 28.607s13 laps

 

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