“Laine and Buller head GP3 mid-season test”

William Buller. © Alastair Staley/GP3 Media Service

MW Arden’s Matias Laine and William Buller (Carlin) took charge during a two-day GP3 test at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia last week, with the latter proving quickest of all.

For both days, the big pace came during the humid morning sessions, with Laine capitalising on Thursday.

The Finn registered a 1:26.610 to slot ahead of Daniel Abt (Lotus), while Nico Muller returned for Trident in the afternoon, taking the top spot albeit at a slightly slower pace.

Laine surged to the top early, although the 22-year-old settled into a fast-paced battle for the lead of the charts with Abt, Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor) and Marlon Stockinger (Status GP).
Carlin pairing Buller and Antonio Felix da Costa battled with Conor Daly (Lotus) to be fastest in the afternoon, only to be beaten thanks to a late surge by Muller. As the afternoon aged, the twenty-five runners settled into race programmes and extended stints.

One of a number of drivers to improve on Friday, Buller sliced three-tenths out of Laine’s time come the morning running, although as the temperatures increased throughout the day, the laptimes steadily slowed.
With high temperatures expected at this weekend’s European Grand Prix, the teams quickly settled back into race preparation mode, including pitstop practice.

Dmitry Suranovich ran both days for Marussia Manor – his Monaco antics apparently forgiven without any punishment.

Fabiano Machado brought out two red flags on Thursday – one for a mechanical issue, another for a spin. Laine and Aaro Vainio (Lotus GP) also stopped on circuit with car problems as the test’s opening session closed for lunch.
Offs from Vicky Piria (Trident) and Kevin Ceccon (Ocean Racing Technology) on Friday morning halted running temporarily.

Jenzer fielded Samin Gomez* on Thursday, with Irish combatant Gary Thompson** taking the third car on Friday.
During her two days, Gomez ran relatively respectable times, as she bedded herself into unfamiliar machinery, while Thompson – also new to the category – set an impressive pace out of the box, ending the afternoon session in 6th spot.
With Alex Brundle racing in the LMP2 category at Le Mans, Carlin decided to only run two cars.

* {note 1}
While Gomez’ efforts were indeed credible, her results in other junior categories have been somewhat less than stellar.
After a difficult opening season in Formula Abarth Europe in 2011, Gomez has seen improved form and currently sits 7th in that championship, following one podium and points finishes in all but two races***.
Her most successful season thus far came in 2010, when Gomez came 3rd in the Asian Formula Renault Challenge on the back of three podiums, two pole positions and two fastest laps.

** {note 2}
Thompson was drafted in by Jenzer, while regular peddler Robert Visoiu sat a school exam. The Dubliner is currently competing in his third season of Japanese Formula 3 National Class, following a year in Formula BMW (Europe and Pacific) in 2009.
The 20-year-old took the runner-up spot in Formula BMW Pacific thanks to one win and ten podiums; however his two-and-a-bit seasons in Japanese Formula 3 have rather less fruitful, with only one victory coming Thompson’s way.

*** {note 3}
It’s a bit of curious truth. In Formula Abarth Europe, the top ten collect points; however there are generally only eleven or twelve drivers in each race.

2012 GP3 test of Valencia (June 14th-15th)
Thursday / Friday combined times:
Pos  Driver                  Team       Time
 1. Will Buller              Carlin     1m26.389s 
 2. Nico Muller              Trident    1m26.481s
 3. Mitch Evans              MW Arden   1m26.543s 
 4. Matias Laine             MW Arden   1m26.610s 
 5. Daniel Abt               Lotus      1m26.613s 
 6. Tio Ellinas              Manor      1m26.629s 
 7. Antonio Felix da Costa   Carlin     1m26.641s 
 8. David Fumanelli          MW Arden   1m26.686s 
 9. Patric Niederhauser      Jenzer     1m26.693s 
10. Marlon Stockinger        Status     1m26.725s 
11. Aaro Vainio              Lotus      1m26.810s 
12. Conor Daly               Lotus      1m26.836s 
13. Kevin Ceccon             Ocean      1m26.865s 
14. Tamas Pal Kiss           Atech CRS  1m27.077s 
15. Robert Visoiu            Jenzer     1m27.323s 
16. Dmitry Suranovich        Manor      1m27.645s 
17. Antonio Spavone          Trident    1m27.651s 
18. Vicky Piria              Trident    1m27.993s 
19. Ethan Ringel             Atech CRS  1m28.092s 
20. Alice Powell             Status     1m28.117s 
21. Fabiano Machado          Manor      1m28.142s 
22. Gary Thompson            Jenzer     1m28.275s 
23. Samin Gomez              Jenzer     1m28.343s 
24. John Wartique            Atech CRS  1m28.414s 
25. Robert Cregan            Ocean      1m28.762s 
26. Carmen Jorda             Ocean      1m29.328s

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