Atech CRS GP underwent its second pre-season test ahead of an assault on the 2012 GP3 Series in Barcelona on Monday and Tuesday with Hungarian ace Tamas Pal Kiss fourth fastest in the final session. Series rookie Ethan Ringel, in only his second season in car racing, continued to make improvements throughout the two days and the pair were joined by newcomer Belgian John Wartique, making his GP3 debut.
Monday started in off cool, dry weather but the drivers’ progress during the morning session was hampered by three red flag periods required to retrieve cars from the gravel run-off areas. A clear run later in the session allowed Pal Kiss to post the fifth fastest time as he continued to work on set-up, while Ringel and Wartique spent much of the first day acclimatising to the Spanish track, winding up 20th and 25th respectively.
The afternoon session saw an improvement in the weather but once again red flags played their part, with the session brought to a premature finish leaving the trio unable to improve on their morning positions.
Tuesday’s final day was held in much warmer conditions and allowed the drivers to concentrate on race set-up. Although again affected by red flags, the day saw a marked improvement in both GP3 rookies, as they closed down the gap to their more experienced team-mate.
In the morning session, Ringel closed to just over a second with Wartique, on only his second day in the car, another second adrift. In the final session, with temperatures much higher, there were several changes made to the car of Pal Kiss, which although didn’t produce a faster lap time, allowed him to close to within six tenths of the fastest driver.
A minor excursion for Ringel in the afternoon session allowed Wartique to get the jump and move ahead, as the American was stranded in the gravel, causing the final red flag of the day. While Wartique himself was happy to have improved his lap time by two seconds from Monday’s session.
Tamas Pal Kiss: “The test proved pretty encouraging, we made several developments and as a result in the final session we were able to make some significant changes to the car which netted us the fourth fastest time. We’re definitely moving in the right direction and getting more and more experience. If we can take to Silverstone everything we’ve learnt here this week, I’m confident we can continue to make improvements and achieve some good results.”
Ethan Ringel: “I had a great time in Barcelona this week. I’m still getting faster, gaining knowledge, and becoming more confident with the car at its limits. And I’m still learning every hour. I’m leaving happy, as we have broken onto the time sheets with only a second between Tamas and myself now, which is good news. I’m quite happy about how everything is going so far and I’m still working hard, trying to get as much seat time as I can to be within a second of everyone by the first race in Barcelona in May.
John Wartique: “I’m very happy with my first test with Atech CRS GP, there were lots of new parameters for me, driving in a single-seater, working with an engineer, but right from the start the team really helped me to progress, so that I was faster in every session. It was very tiring physically but I made a lot of progress in two days, and I hope the team also was happy with my performance.”
David Hayle, Team Principal: “Throughout the off season testing programme we’ve been working on new ideas to try to get more time out of the car. We’ve been fairly conclusive with a lot of things but I felt we made the biggest breakthrough on Thursday during this test. Tamas set his fastest time on the second run on the new tyres due to an interrupted first run which is very encouraging. Ethan just gets better and better every test which is really promising and John was thrown completely in at the deep end but dealt with everything thrown at him.”