Team GBR pilot Danny Watts has laid down a marker for this weekend’s event in Sepang, Malaysia, after topping the timesheets in the first rookie practice and then improving on that to take the fastest lap of the weekend so far.
Watts, who is still technically classed as a rookie by the series despite considerable experience testing the car, set his fastest lap on the ninth of 11 in the first morning session, with a time of 1:51.096, putting him at the top of the timesheets. In the second he was third-quickest of the session, with France and New Zealand ahead.
In the hour-long afternoon practice he set a time of 1:50.038 on his first flying lap, which was never bettered, despite improving track conditions.
The team will have a further one-hour testing session tomorrow morning with the rest of the grid ahead of afternoon qualifying.
The successful practice comes on the back of a double podium for Watts at the previous race in Chengdu, China, which kick-started Team GBR’s season.
He said: “It felt good today and we’re working hard for tomorrow now. In the rookie session I always knew I would be there or thereabouts and this afternoon I expected the others to catch up.
“Looking at the times towards the end, the top ten are very, very close — there’s hardly anything in it. I think it will be the same story tomorrow and it’s going to be very tight at the top.
“Driving this car on this track is really amazing, with the aero, downforce and the braking — braking into the last corner is unbelievable.
“It’s now my second weekend in the car and last week I was racing Porsche and GT cars at Macau, so it’s a bit of a change. But I have learnt how to adapt quickly to new cars and I think that is showing in the results.”
Team principal Katie Clements added: “It’s been another positive start to the weekend and, once again, the boys and Danny have quickly dialled into the track and worked hard to prepare in the best way possible for tomorrow.
“We have some more work to do in tomorrow morning’s practice and the times are close but, at this stage, are feeling very confident for qualifying.”
Saturday’s qualifying starts at 1415 local time (0615 GMT) with Sunday’s 25-minute sprint race starting at 1100 local time (0300 GMT) and the 70-minute feature race beginning at 1500 local time (0700 GMT).