Walker in the sunshine, Alguersuari in the rain
The weather conditions conspired to shake things up on the last day of collective testing in Barcelona. At the end of the morning, James Walker (P1 Motorsport) gave the best performance of the day before the rain set in over Catalunya. In the wet, Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) showed off his talent as the fastest, one-thousandth ahead of Miguel Molina (USR).
On Tuesday morning, the track was damp at the start of the session. After a few laps finding their feet, the drivers opted for slick tyres on a circuit which was starting to dry out. Just as Miguel Molina was entering the top of the time sheet with a lap of 1'34"458 ahead of Franck Perera (Interwetten Racing), Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) crashed out in his starting lap and hit the barrier.
Behind Molina, the positions were changing, but the drivers efforts were halted when the rain made an entrance ninety minutes into the session. The traffic was starting to build…in the pit-lane! The teams took advantage of the passing shower to practice their tyre changes.
The slicks made a return at the end of the morning. Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing) went one better to take control. At the same time, Jaime Alguersuari had climbed to second place, before stopping his car track-side. Fairuz Fauzy (Mofaz Fortec Motorsport) then eased into top-spot for a few minutes, until James Walker stepped up the pace slightly. Setting a time of 1'32"428, Walker improved his time from the previous day. The final push of the morning, following a crash by Marcos Martinez, changed nothing. James Walker led Fairuz Fauzy, Adrián Vallés (Epsilon Euskadi) and Chris Van der Drift (Epsilon Euskadi).
In the afternoon, the rain looked like it was in Barcelona to stay. The teams would be testing the new aerodynamic configuration in the wet for the first time. Greg Mansell (USR) was the most tenacious on track and took the lead at the start of the afternoon.
The session was interrupted at several points by spins, but between two red flags, Miguel Molinas gained the upper hand over his teammate. At the end of the session, it was Jaime Alguersuari's turn to squeeze in front by just one-thousandth. The Spanish were clearly enjoying the rain, with Alguersuari followed by Molina and Martinez.
Miguel Molina: "Despite the changing conditions, we are ahead, which just goes to show that we are competitive. We've learned to lap together with USR throughout the collective testing. We're ready!"
Bertrand Baguette: "At Jerez, we didn't do much driving in order to keep our tyres fresh. We really got down to business at Valencia. Yesterday we fine-tuned our race set-up on the Barcelona circuit, ready for the first race. We know where we're at! We're happy, and confident for the season ahead."
Jaime Alguersuari: "I'm very pleased. I was very fast through the second and third sections and I'm convinced that we can do great things this season, as Carlin Motorsport's has massive potential. We still have work to do, but the times in the rain are very encouraging for the season."
Franck Perera: "It's six months since I last drove! I needed to get myself back on the pace. I'm familiar with the old FR3.5. This new version is different and feels more purposeful. I'm getting the measure of it little by little. I'm hoping I'm quickly going to have some good results in the season to come."