Grubmüller on top at Oulton Park

After two days of testing at Oulton Park, venue for the opening rounds of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, Austrian driver Walter Grubmüller emerged the pacesetter.

Grubmüller's best time at the wheel of his Hitech Racing Dallara-Mercedes, set in dry conditions this afternoon (Weds), was just five-hundredths of a second faster than that of Nick Tandy, who enjoyed a superb start to his season with a mechanical problem-free shakedown for the new JTR-prepared Mygale-Mercedes.

Riki Christodoulou, the pacesetter at Snetterton a fortnight ago, went third-fastest for the Fortec team, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo fourth and the leading Volkswagen-powered runner.

Monégasque racer Stephane Richelmi was a non-starter today; he crashed his Barazi Epsilon Dallara heavily yesterday and it could not be repaired at the circuit. Others enjoying off-track excursions included Tandy, Spaniard Victor Garcia and Team West-Tec's new Russian signing, Max Snegirev.

F3 testing continues next week at Rockingham; the championship kicks off at Oulton Park on Easter Monday (13 Apr). The series is sponsored by US tyre manufacturer Cooper Tire and is further supported by motorsport insurance specialist AON, by Sunoco Racing Fuels and by Anglo American Oil Company.

Testing times, Oulton Park 10-11/3/2009

1, Walter Grubmüller/A, Hitech Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 27.753s2, Nick Tandy/GB, JTR Mygale-Mercedes, 1m 27.807s3, Riki Christodoulou/GB, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 27.903s4, Daniel Ricciardo/AUS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 27.924s5, Henry Arundel/GB, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 28.049s6, Max Chilton/GB, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 28.153s7, Oliver Oakes/GB, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 28.357s8, Adriano Buzaid/BR, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 28.525s9, Carlos Huertas/COL, RR Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 28.693s10, Daisuke Nakajima/J, RR Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 29.152s11, Wayne Boyd/GB, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen, 1m 29.294s12, Hywel Lloyd/GB, CF Racing Dallara-Mugen Honda, 1m 29.405s13, Victor Garcia/ESP, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 29.509s14, Daniel McKenzie/GB, Fortec Dallara-Mugen Honda, 1m 29.937s15, Victor Correa/BR, Litespeed-Mugen Honda, 1m 31.365s16, Stéphane Richelmi/MON, Barazi-Epsilon Dallara-Mercedes, 1m 31.606s17, Max Snegirev/R, West-Tec Dallara-Mugen Honda, 1m 32.597s