Mark Webber’s MW Arden squad has given the otherwise dominant ART team something to think about in the final session of this week’s two-day GP3 test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
The Banbury-based outfit topped the last outing before the series’ inaugural season start after its driver Michael Christensen posted a time of 1:37.716.
It ended a run of dominating form by the French squad’s Esteban Gutierrez who had run well throughout the test following an equally good spell at Paul Ricard two weeks previously.
However the Mexican driver did finish the final session within five hundredths of a second of Christensen’s time.
Also enjoying two days of strong running was Renger van der Zande, in third place for RSC Mucke Motorsport, with a time of 1:37.913. Carlin driver Dean Smith was fourth after also enjoying a generally positive week.
Other British drivers taking part were James Jakes and Jordan Oakes driving for Manor Racing plus Oliver Oakes in the Atech GP car.
Eight different teams filled out the top 10 places in the final session that covered 1161 laps bringing the grand total for two days to 3407 laps over 15,860 kilometres.
Julian Rouse, MW Arden team manager, said: “It’s obviously really positive for us to finish the last test so competitively, especially as the first event is back here so shortly.
“ART have been so competitive, so it feels good to finally go quicker than them at a circuit on the GP3 calendar.”
Carlin team principal Trevor Carlin added: “I’m very happy with the testing we have completed this spring.
“We’ve have three new eager drivers in the team who have done plenty of mileage to get to grips with the car, and have been steadily improving lap by lap.
“Although Dean Smith has been setting the benchmark for the other drivers in Barcelona, everyone is progressing, and we now have a good bank of data to compare.
“As a team we still have a lot to learn to get the best out of the cars, but we are finding them responsive to change and easy for the teams and drivers to work with. Barcelona in three weeks time is going to be very exciting to watch.”
GP3 will be back on track in Barcelona for the opening round of the series on May 8-9.