Davide Valsecchi set the pace in the first day of GP2 testing at Jerez, with James Jakes as a late addition for Super Nova bringing the number of British drivers in action across the three-day test to five.
Jakes ran for Super Nova in last year’s GP2 Asia season but could not secure a seat for the main championships. His late addition to the testing roster came after the team announced he would once again race in the Asian series for them.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to getting back into the seat. I’ve had a bit of time off, and it will be nice to jump back in with Super Nova.
“We had some good races last season, and a few unlucky ones, so hopefully we can learn from any mistakes and have a successful season with the sole aim of winning the championship.”
Team Manager Andy Roche added: “We are very pleased to be joining forces with James again this season. We are in talks with three other drivers at the moment for the remaining seat, and we will be able to confirm this position very soon.”
In the morning session Jakes set the 13th-best time of the 24 drivers testing, recording a 1min 28.251 lap against the 1min 26.408 benchmark set by Valsecchi, driving for Coloni.
The experienced Roldan Rodriguez was second-fastest for Racing Engineering, three tenths of a second slower, and third was the runaway leader of the Formula Three Euroseries, Jules Bianchi, driving for ART.
Top among British drivers was F3 Euroseries driver Sam Bird, 10th-fastest overall for Dams, with iSport’s Oliver Turvey a place behind Jakes in 14th.
Turvey was the cause of one of the session’s two red flags, when his car came to a halt on the track with eight minutes left. The other was caused early on by Max Chilton running off track in the last corner and breaking his front wing.
Chilton, the top UK driver in the British Formula Three International championship, ran only seven laps in total and was slowest overall for Barwa Addax with a 1min 31.968 fastest time.
He has already been confirmed for the GP2 Asia season and is hoping to make the transfer to the main series afterwards.
The afternoon session saw Bianchi go fastest – although marginally slower than Valsecchi had done in the morning, recording a 1min 26.919 lap. Jerome d’Ambrosio was second-fastest for iSport, ahead of Diego Nunes of Racing Engineering.
Bird and Turvey improved to ninth and tenth in the standings, but Jakes slipped to 21st. Chilton, again running fewer laps than anyone else, marginally improved his time and hauled himself off the bottom of the timesheet.
Once again two drivers caused red flags, this time the culprits being Arden’s Rodolfo Gonzalez and Trident’s Edoardo Piscopo.
Day two of the test will see Jakes, Turvey and Bird in action again, while the final day on Thursday will again feature Jakes and Turvey, with Chilton returning and Jon Lancaster replacing Bird at Dams.
Thursday will also see F1 hopeful Bruno Senna return to iSport alongside Turvey, and rally star Sebastien Loeb test for DPR ahead of a rumoured Formula One outing for Toro Rosso at Abu Dhabi.