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Formula Renault 3.5

Nick Yelloly (Comtec Racing) and Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) defied their positions in the overall standings to dominate the morning and afternoon sessions respectively, relegating the title-chasing trio of Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsports), Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) and Sam Bird (ISR) to the bunch. While the top three are no doubt saving their energy for Saturday’s qualifying session and race, the USA’s Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham) rediscovered his form in a strong showing.

Warm sunshine greeted the Formula Renault 3.5 Series field for Friday’s collective testing at Paul Ricard, where Ferrari Driver Academy member Davide Rigon teamed up with BVM Target, the chance for the Italian to get to grips with the new single-seater, having already raced in the category back in 2005.

Sam Bird was the first of the drivers to show when the morning session got under way. The Mercedes AMG F1 Team man set the fastest lap with a time of 1:49.493 before the red flag came out after Zoel Amberg (Pons Racing) came to a halt on the track. The session had barely resumed when Lucas Foresti (DAMS) then suffered an oil leak, causing a second hold-up.

Nick Yelloly took charge at the end of the session, putting together a series of fastest laps and leading the way with a time of 1:48.964 from Arthur Pic (DAMS) and Alexander Rossi, with Kevin Magnussen and Sam Bird completing the top five.

With the track offering more grip in the afternoon, the times started to come down. Caterham F1 Team man Alexander Rossi was first to go on the attack, shading Nick Yelloly’s morning time with a lap of 1:48.690. Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) then underlined the fine form of the team run by Garry and Christian Horner before the session was momentarily halted when moment Kevin Korjus (Lotus) stopped on the track.

Sam Bird took the fastest time down to 1:48.027 before Robin Frijns reminded everyone why he leads the Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings by ducking inside Bird’s best with a time of 1’48’’017. Alexander Rossi came back one more time to lead the field, only to be edged out at the chequered flag by Kevin Magnussen, whose flying lap of 1:47.416 was the day’s best. Taking third place was Nick Yelloly, with Robin Frijns and Sam Bird behind him.

What they said:

Alexander Rossi: “There are a lot of reasons why I’m having such a tough season. I won here last year and I’ve got some good memories of this track, so it’s a good place for me to start my comeback. It’s a great confidence-booster to be in among the fastest times at the start of the weekend. Arden Caterham have done a great job and it’s all set up for me to do well in qualifying tomorrow. That’s going to depend on the weather as well, though.”

Nick Yelloly: “We restructured the team after Silverstone and it’s beginning to pay off. I had some good pace this morning and afternoon, which is important psychologically. I don’t think I’ve got a chance in the championship but the aim is to finish the year on a high and prepare the ground for next season.”

Davide Rigon: “I haven’t raced in a single-seater since my accident in GP2 at Istanbul in 2011. I’ve had a few GT races and I did some Formula One testing for Ferrari a few weeks ago at Magny-Cours, but I’m delighted to be back in a competitive environment and at the wheel of a great car.

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 28 September 2012
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