“Ellinas takes GP3 practice top spot in Spa washout”

© GP3 Media Services.

Tio Ellinas made the best of torrid conditions at Spa-Francorchamps to claim the top spot for GP3 Free Practice.

The Marussia Manor driver pipped Carlin rival Antonio Felix da Costa as the clock ticked to zero, with a best lap of 2:28.100 – just four-hundredths quicker than da Costa come the chequered flag.

Lotus pairing Daniel Abt and Conor Daly took 3rd and 4th respectively, coming to within three-tenths of Ellinas’ leading time.
Alex Brundle enjoyed a solid session with a run to 5th, while Aaro Vainio made it three Lotus’ in the top six. Next up were MW Arden duo Mitch Evans and Matias Laine, just ahead of Lewis Williamson* and Alex Fontana who headed the Status GP and Jenzer charge respectively.

The session proved to be incident packed, with many drivers suffering spins and trips through the gravel, including Jenzer Motorsport’s Patric Niederhauser, who aquaplaned at the top of the Kemmel Straight. Luckily, despite hopping the steep kerbs, the Swiss pilot escaped with no serious damage.

The same could not be said for Atech CRS racer John Wartique. The GP3 returnee lost control of his Renault-powered Dallara running through Eau Rouge, eventually slamming into the awaiting tyre barriers.
His car firmly stuck underneath the wall, the session was brought to a halt for seventeen minutes while his car was retrieved.

* {note 1}
In a piece of welcome news for the Scot, Lewis Williamson has been confirmed to run with Status GP for the remaining two rounds, replacing Japanese pilot Kotaro Sakurai.
Williamson ran in GP3 last year, taking one win and two podiums to finish 4th overall in the points. A difficult season in Formula Renault 3.5 would see Williamson dropped by the Red Bull junior programme; however it appears he has enough of a budget to finish the season in GP3 at least.

2012 GP3 Round of Spa-Francorchamps (Rd 7, Free Practice)
Pos  Driver                  Team       Time       Gap
 1.  Tio Ellinas             Manor      2m28.100s
 2.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Carlin     2m28.143s  + 0.043s
 3.  Daniel Abt              Lotus      2m28.204s  + 0.104s
 4.  Conor Daly              Lotus      2m28.392s  + 0.292s
 5.  Alex Brundle            Carlin     2m29.063s  + 0.963s
 6.  Aaro Vainio             Lotus      2m29.498s  + 1.398s
 7.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden   2m29.555s  + 1.455s
 8.  Matias Laine            MW Arden   2m29.692s  + 1.592s
 9.  Lewis Williamson        Status     2m29.925s  + 1.825s
10.  Alex Fontana            Jenzer     2m30.093s  + 1.993s
11.  David Fumanelli         MW Arden   2m30.122s  + 2.022s
12.  Will Buller             Carlin     2m30.133s  + 2.033s
13.  Tamas Pal Kiss          Atech CRS  2m30.296s  + 2.196s
14.  Marlon Stockinger       Status     2m30.324s  + 2.224s
15.  Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer     2m30.556s  + 2.456s
16.  Kevin Ceccon            Ocean      2m30.801s  + 2.701s
17.  Robert Visoiu           Jenzer     2m30.998s  + 2.898s
18.  Giovanni Venturini      Trident    2m31.157s  + 3.057s
19.  Robert Cregan           Ocean      2m31.404s  + 3.304s
20.  Ethan Ringel            Atech CRS  2m31.455s  + 3.355s
21.  Fabiano Machado         Manor      2m31.584s  + 3.484s
22.  Dmitry Suranovich       Manor      2m31.832s  + 3.732s
23.  Vicky Piria             Trident    2m34.041s  + 5.941s
24.  Carmen Jorda            Ocean      2m35.412s  + 7.312s
25.  Alice Powell            Status     2m35.772s  + 7.672s
26.  John Wartique           Atech CRS  2m36.035s  + 7.935s

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