Valsecchi tops day one of GP2 pre-season test in Jerez

Circuito de Jerez. © Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Former GP2 Asia Series champion, Davide Valsecchi claimed the fastest lap after the opening day of GP2 pre-season testing at Jerez.

The Italian set his quickest lap of 1:26.014 during the quicker morning session, giving Valsecchi a two-tenths advantage over next fastest Fabio Onidi.

Valsecchi also proved to be one of the busier drivers throughout the day, registering an impressive 55 laps, as the 25-year-old making the best of the limited testing available this year.

Onidi, who last year finished 5th in the Auto GP Series, completed 50 laps, eventually falling two-tenths shy of Valsecchi. Next up was iSport’s Joylon Palmer, who set the most laps of the twin sessions, logging 59 tours of the Jerez course by the chequered flag.

Marcus Ericsson (iSport) and 2009 GP3 champion Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus) secured 4th and 5th respectively. Ericsson – surely one of the title favourites – exchanged the top spot with Valsecchi as the circuit warmed in the last morning.
An off from Ocean Racing Technology’s Tom Dillmann ensured the morning session was prematurely halted, although the battle for the top spot continued once running the red flag was cleared.

The field comprised of numerous graduates to the category, including GP3 Series runner-up James Calado, who secured 6th on the time sheets after completing 44 laps.
Other GP3 promotees included Nigel Melker (Ocean Racing Technology, 11th), Rio Haryanto (Marussia-Carlin, 15th), Simon Trummer (Arden, 18th), Dillmann (23rd), Daniel de Jong (Rapax, 24th) and Vittorio Ghirelli (Venezuela GP Lazarus, 26th).
British Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr completed 51 laps in his DAMS machine, setting the 25th best time overall.

Varying degrees of experienced filled out the top ten, headed by third year driver Fabio Leimer (Racing Engineering, 7th), just ahead of Trident’s Stephane Richelmi who will be competing in only his third GP2 event come the opening round in Malaysia. Heading into his second full season of GP2*, Stefano Coletti claimed 9th spot for Coloni, just half-a-tenth up on HRT reserve driver Dani Clos (Rapax).
As the afternoon aged, Ghirelli brought out a second red flag when his stopped Venezuela GP Lazarus entry briefly stopped on track.

Series tyre supplier, Pirelli, will be utilising just the hard and medium tyres throughout the three-day test.

* {note 1}
Coletti briefly raced with perennial GP2 backmarkers Durango toward the tail end of 2009; however during the Feature Race of his second event at Spa-Francorchamps, the Monegasque driver suffered a catastrophic car failure going through Eau Rouge.
The car went straight on at the top of the hill, hitting the barriers head on, writing off the monocoque and causing Coletti to suffer compressed vertebrae, amongst other minor injuries. Although due to return at Monza some weeks later, Coletti was withdrawn when he began to suffer recurring pains prior to the event. He also missed the Formula Euro Series round at Brands Hatch following the crash.
Coletti dropped down to GP3 in 2010, eventually returning to GP2 last year with Trident and claiming two race wins, before getting injured (again) in a bizarre Feature Race** (again) at Spa-Francorchamps (again).

** {note 1b}
From 2011 GP2 Round of Spa-Francorchamps (Rd 8, TV Notes)
“…Having completely missed the leaders, the safety car drew to a halt exiting the pitlane, whereby cars refused to pass it. The confusion grew deeper still as the rain suddenly picked up, dousing the field in large plumes of spray, even at slow speed.
Amidst the disorder, Stefano Coletti crashed hard into the rear of Michael Aleshin, with the former flying high, sustaining compressed fractures of two vertebrae as he landed.
Unsure of the order, drivers slowed severely under the safety car, causing several machines to fall into “stand-by mode”, with some units switching off altogether. The race did eventually restart with one lap left, albeit with a far different leaderboard…”

Combined times:
Pos  Driver               Team                Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Davide Valsecchi     DAMS                1m26.014s           55
 2.  Fabio Onidi          Coloni              1m26.217s  + 0.203s 50
 3.  Jolyon Palmer        iSport              1m26.219s  + 0.205s 59
 4.  Marcus Ericsson      iSport              1m26.266s  + 0.252s 47
 5.  Esteban Gutierrez    Lotus               1m26.408s  + 0.394s 49
 6.  James Calado         Lotus               1m26.586s  + 0.572s 44
 7.  Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering  1m26.776s  + 0.762s 50
 8.  Stéphane Richelmi    Trident             1m26.888s  + 0.874s 48
 9.  Stefano Coletti      Coletti             1m26.891s  + 0.877s 54
10.  Dani Clos            Rapax               1m26.944s  + 0.930s 40
11.  Nigel Melker         Ocean               1m26.944s  + 0.930s 33
12.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Caterham            1m26.971s  + 0.957s 46
13.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham            1m26.990s  + 0.976s 38
14.  Johnny Cecotto       Addax               1m27.013s  + 0.999s 30
15.  Max Chilton          Carlin              1m27.187s  + 1.173s 50
16.  Nathanael Berthon    Racing Engineering  1m27.205s  + 1.191s 42
17.  Josef Kral           Addax               1m27.236s  + 1.222s 39
18.  Simon Trummer        Arden               1m27.408s  + 1.394s 52
19.  Luiz Razia           Arden               1m27.437s  + 1.423s 35
20.  Fabrizio Crestani    Lazarus             1m27.496s  + 1.482s 54
21.  Rio Haryanto         Carlin              1m27.580s  + 1.566s 50
22.  Julian Leal          Trident             1m27.799s  + 1.785s 45
23.  Tom Dillmann         Ocean               1m27.871s  + 1.857s 22
24.  Daniel de Jong       Rapax               1m27.914s  + 1.900s 50
25.  Felipe Nasr          DAMS                1m28.076s  + 2.062s 51
26.  Vittorio Ghirelli    Lazarus             1m29.117s  + 3.103s 48

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