Formula 3 debutant Riki Christodoulou topped the timesheets at Snetterton this week in the first official test session of the 2009 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.
Twenty-year-old West Midlander Christodoulou - a race winner in Formula Renault in 2008 for the Fortec team - was enjoying his first taste of Fortec's new Dallara F309 chassis. Riki's best lap was half a second better than that of his nearest rival and just over a second inside the Norfolk circuit's official lap record.
Said Christodoulou: "The Dallara's new aero package is awesome - you can really feel the difference. It was a great day for me, the team worked well and we ended up on top; I was surprised by the margin." Riki hopes to be on the grid for the opening round of the championship but is still seeking funding: "We don't yet have a full budget for the year but we are working hard at it and I am still hungry for Formula 3."
The Snetterton test marked the first UK public outing for the new Volkswagen engine; the four cars of reigning champion team Carlin Motorsport were among the top six yesterday with Max Chilton posting second-best time.
Daisuke Nakajima, brother of Formula 1 star Kazuki, was among those drivers making his British F3 debut yesterday; Daisuke, a graduate of the Japanese domestic Formula 3 series, was testing for Räikkönen Robertson Racing.
The opening rounds of the championship, which is sponsored by US tyre manufacturer Cooper Tire and further supported by motorsport insurance specialist AON, by Sunoco Racing Fuels and by Anglo American Oil Company, take place at Oulton Park, Cheshire, on Easter Monday (13 Apr).
Testing times, Snetterton 24/2/2009
1, Riki Christodoulou/GB, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 00.850s2, Max Chilton/GB, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 01.370s3, Walter Grubmüller/A, Hitech Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 01.493s4, Henry Arundel/GB, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 01.511s5, Daniel Ricciardo/AUS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 01.519s6, Oliver Oakes/GB, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 01.537s7, Daniel McKenzie/GB, Fortec Dallara-Mugen Honda, 1m 01.939s8, Adriano Buzaid/BR, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 02.104s9, Carlos Huertas/COL, RRR Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 02.119s10, Wayne Boyd/GB, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 02.295s11, Victor Garcia/ESP, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 02.419s12, Hywel Lloyd/GB, CF Racing Dallara-Mugen Honda, 1m 02.545s13, Stéphane Richelmi/MON, Barazi-Epsilon Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 02.691s14, Victor Correa/BR, Litespeed-Mugen Honda, 1m 03.975s15, Daisuke Nakajima/J, RRR Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 05.532s