With the season opener less than six weeks away, eighteen British Formula 3 machines settled in at Rockingham Motor Speedway for the opening test of the season.
And of the dozen-and-a-half runners, it was Carlin racer Felipe Nasr that topped the timing screens.
The Brazilian set his quickest time of 1:10.953 nearing the end of the third morning session, giving Nasr a 0.041 advantage over Colombian team mate – and rival – Carlos Huertas.
Huertas set himself up for a busy day, as he ran a total of 93 laps around the Northamptonshire circuit, just two more than Rupert Svendsen-Cook. The Englishman could do no better than a 1:11.110, but will no doubt be aiming to pip the leading pair come tomorrow’s running.
Jazeman Jaafar fell just shy of Svendsen-Cook. The Malaysian driver enjoyed a 77-lap run during the day’s five sessions as he continues to bed himself into the Volkswagen-powered machine.
Also impressing on day one was 2010 Formula BMW Europe Series runner-up, Jack Harvey. The 17-year-old secured 5th on the timing sheets with a best of 1:11.358 – more importantly, Harvey completed 89 laps in the Dallara F308 as he readies for his first Formula 3 season.
Quite ominously, all six Carlin runners featured in the top-seven, with only former-F3 Sudamericana driver Pietro Fantin (6th) breaking the Carlin stranglehold in his Hitech prepared Dallara. The Brazilian ran 84 laps with a best just over four-tenths slower than his countryman Nasr.
Kevin Magnussen was the last of the Carlin drivers, although the Dane finished the day only a whiff ahead of Riki Christodoulou (8th, Hitech Racing) and Lucas Foresti (9th, Fortec Motorsport).
Last year’s National Champion, Menasheh Idafar rounded out the top-ten on this first day of testing, just pipping F3 veteran Hywel Lloyd (11th, Sino Vision Racing) and 2011 débutante’s Harry Tincknell (12th, Fortec Motorsport) and Pipo Derani (13th, Double R).
Pos Driver Team Time 1 Felipe NASR, Carlin 1m 10.953s 2 Carlos HUERTAS, Carlin 1m 10.994s 3 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK, Carlin 1m 11.110s 4 Jazeman JAAFAR, Carlin 1m 11.121s 5 Jack HARVEY, Carlin 1m 11.358s 6 Pietro FANTIN, Hitech 1m 11.370s 7 Kevin MAGNUSSEN, Carlin 1m 11.528s 8 Riki CHRISTODOULOU, Hitech 1m 11.530s 9 Lucas FORESTI, Fortec 1m 11.584s 10 Menasheh IDAFAR, T-Sport 1m 11.826s 11 Hywel LLOYD, Sino Vision 1m 11.834s 12 Harry TINCKNELL, Fortec 1m 11.904s 13 Pipo DERANI, Double R 1m 11.923s 14 Scott PYE, Double R 1m 12.043s 15 William BULLER, Fortec 1m 12.084s 16 Adderley FONG, Sino Vision 1m 12.254s 17 Bart HYLKEMA, T Sport 1m 12.725s 18 Yann CUNHA, T Sport 1m 14.083s