Guido van der Garde and rookie Marcus Ericsson set the fastest times in the second and third days of GP2 testing in Jerez – but the much-anticipated arrivals of F1 hopeful Bruno Senna and rally star Sebastien Loeb failed to set the timesheets aflame.
Highest-placed British drivers across the four sessions were Euroseries 3000 championship front-runner Will Bratt, who set the fifth-best time in the rain-hit first session on Thursday, and James Jakes who was also fifth in the second session of day two.
Oliver Turvey claimed seventh place as his own, finishing there in three of the four sessions, while GP2 Asia-bound Max Chilton managed considerably more laps on the third day than he had on the first and moved up the timesheets as a result.
Sam Bird and Jon Lancaster ran a day each for Dams, the former showing the benefit of having taken part in last year’s tests and the first day this year by recording the better results, including a top 10 in the first day two session.
After Davide Valsecchi set the fastest time in day one of testing it was another GP2 veteran, Giedo van der Garde, who took advantage of the cooler temperatures of day two to run fastest.
His 1min 25.291 for Barwa Addax beat out Coloni’s Alberto Valerio and Racing Engineering’s Kamui Kobayashi, who was returning from Formula One duties in his native Japan. The Toyota tester went on to run fastest in the slightly slower second session of the day, ahead of Jerome d’Ambrosio and van der Garde.
The first session saw a trio of British drivers in the lower reaches of the top 10, Turvey in seventh, Bird in ninth and Jakes in 10th. Bratt, on his debut for Coloni after testing last year for DPR, was 18th. Jakes moved up to fifth in session two, but Bird and Turvey found themselves languishing in 17th and 19th while Bratt slipped to last of 25.
Day three of the test saw Senna return to iSport, partly to refamiliarise himself with fast single-seater racing after a season away, and partly to act as a benchmark by which the team could judge hopefuls such as Turvey. Also on track was Loeb, running for DPR, with rumours still linking him to a Toro Rosso drive in F1.
Rain hit most of the three-hour morning session, with predictable effects on the times of all but those who went out in the final stages. Dani Clos and d’Ambrosio ran fastest for Racing Engineering, the Spaniard setting a 1min 28.875 fastest time.
Bratt – who will win a funded drive in GP2 Asia if he can secure the Euroseries 3000 title – and Turvey flew the flag for the British drivers in fifth and seventh. Senna was more than a second slower than his team-mate Turvey, down in 14th place. Jakes took 12th while Loeb’s debut saw him 18th, bracketed by Lancaster ahead of him and Chilton behind.
The afternoon was drier, but the six red flags suggested it was no less treacherous. The fastest time of 1min 25.970 was set by Japanese Formula Three champion Marcus Ericsson for ART, who had also fielded the likely F3 Euroseries champion Jules Bianchi when he topped the timesheet in the second session of day one.
Turvey took up his by-now customary seventh, while Jakes and Bratt led Senna in 12th, 13th and 14th. Chilton was 19th, Lancaster 23rd and Loeb last of 25.