Collective testing 2 – Jerez - Miguel Molina still at the races!
The pace was cranked up a notch for day two of collective testing here in Jerez. The drivers smashed right through the Formula Renault 3.5 Series track record, to date held by Alvaro Parente. Miguel Molina (USR) set the fastest time ahead of Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) and Marco Barba (International Draco Racing).
The conditions were perfect for this second day of collective testing at the Jerez circuit. The drivers made the most of the ideal temperatures in the morning to go after the fastest time.
Charles Pic started the day in the same way he had left off yesterday. But it was the rookie drivers who quickly came to the fore. Chris Van der Drift (Epsilon Euskadi), Greg Mansell (USR) and then Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) all took it in turns to set the provisional fastest time.
Then, it was the turn of Adrian Valles (Epsilon Euskadi) to stand up and be noticed. With a lap in 1'29''612, he became the first driver to beat the record set last year at this circuit by Alvaro Parente (1'29''750) in the development version of Formula Renault 3.5.
This set the tone for the rest of the proceedings and Charles Pic, on fresh rubber, decided it was time to have his say in things. The Tech 1 Racing driver put in a whole series of quick laps to go top of the timing screens with a fastest lap of 1'29''218. But, it did not take Miguel Molina (USR) long to hit back. The Spaniard made a major breakthrough to go faster than the 1'29 mark, with a lap in 1'28''933. Marco Barba, the other self-proclaimed candidate for the title, also made his presence felt by setting the third fastest time, behind Molina and Pic.
Things calmed down slightly as the session drew to a close, with each of the drivers focussing more closely on how the car handles on worn tyres. Oliver Turvey did, however, manage to make his way into fifth, just ahead of his team-mate, Jaime Alguersuari.
The weather was hotter in the afternoon meaning that there were no real changes in the standings. Miguel Molina confirmed his good form by putting in the fastest lap of the session, but without reaching the heights of his morning's performance. He was again fastest in the afternoon ahead of Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing) and Adrian Valles.
Miguel Molina: "The new aerodynamic setup is very interesting indeed. There is less downforce in the bends and the car is faster in the quick sections. I really like this single-seater. It is genuinely like an F1 car!"
Charles Pic: "We have worked very hard here, testing out various different setups. The car is responding well to this new aerodynamic configuration and we're putting in some excellent performances. It is a real opportunity for me to be a member of the Renault Driver Development program, but that doesn't mean I'll be approaching things any differently. It is great to have the benefit of the supervision and experience of the F1 people with RDD. But now it's up to me to put in a good season. I have come a long way since last season, having gained both in maturity and experience."
Oliver Turvey: "I feel very comfortable with this car. Jaime Alguersuari and I know each other very well and are used to working together. So I feel very at home with Carlin Motorsport too. I've got that sneaking feeling we are going to be competitive this season."
Greg Mansell: "Overall, these two days of testing have been positive for me, as I am hitting the right pace. The level of competition in Formula Renault 3.5 Series is very high and the USR team takes a really refined approach to its work. It's the first time that I've driven at Jerez and it's a really nice circuit. The temperatures were ideal this morning for putting in a fast time. In the afternoon, we did some pit-stop simulations and worked on the car under race conditions."