“GP3 Series: Sainz Jr and Williamson show speed in Estoril”

© GP3 Media Services.
© GP3 Media Services.

Carlos Sainz Jr and Lewis Williamson made the best of the new GP3 Series machinery in the opening test at Estoril.

MW Arden’s Sainz Jr headed the opening two days, until Williamson (Bamboo Engineering) broke the Spaniard’s run with a fast run yesterday evening.

Cool temperatures helped bring the laptimes down on the opening day (Wednesday); so much so, the new GP3/13 began lapping the Portuguese circuit over three seconds quicker than the previous generation machines at the same track a year ago.

Carlin new boys Luis Sá Silva and Eric Lichtenstein were among the first to take the new cars on track, gifting the GP3/13’s throaty 400bhp engine a well received lift; however morning honours would eventually fall to Marussia Manor’s Tio Ellinas.
Daniil Kvyat also displayed plenty of speed during his stints, but it would be Sainz Jr who brought the best time of day one down to 1:26.816 in the final hour, as the cooling air allowed the Renault engines more room to breathe.

Upon the chequered flag, the Spaniard was delighted with his efforts: “So many people had said how difficult the GP3/13 car would be to drive and they were right! I was so surprised with the amount of power and speed, in particular through the corners. It’s very challenging for us and it’s a very good feeling driving a car with 400hp, we had a great base to start with so we will see what we can achieve.”

For Didier Perrin – GP3 Series Technical Director – Wednesday proved to be a proud day. “The car looks beautiful, it sounds fantastic and as anticipated it’s much quicker than the GP3/10. We have achieved over 650 laps on day one of testing. With more power, the car will be much more demanding for drivers’ therefore I am very confident that when we arrive in Barcelona for the first round, we will produce an even better show and a high level of exciting competition.”

Unlike the midweek opener, Thursday morning’s running was slowed due to heavy pre-session rain and heavy winds. But as the bleak outlook cleared, the twenty-seven strong field poured out for a further 833 laps.
David Fumanelli headed the morning times following a slow change to slicks; however Sainz Jr once again capitalised on changing weather conditions late on. Warmth crept across Estoril, with the emerging afternoon sun doing much to raise the track temperature and grip, while also lowering lap times.

After a day off on Thursday, Williamson returned to action with Bamboo yesterday to post the quickest time of the session. The team, new to GP3 {note 1}, made the most of the tricky Friday conditions to draw ahead of morning quick boys Kevin Korjus (Koiranen GP) and Sainz Jr.
The sun returned after lunch, eventually leading to a sly fall in lap times with slick tyres finally making an appearance in the finally couple of hours. Numerous red flags made for a stuttered day’s running, but it was Williamson who emerged on top as race simulations began to take hold.

Throughout the opening two days, the GP3/13 suffered no failures, although a few minor gremlins crept into the machines as the final day progressed – an impressive effort for the GP3/13’s first official test.
The series is set to run again at Barcelona on March 12th and 13th.

{note 1}
On Monday, Atech CRS announced that they were joining forces with Bamboo Engineering to field three cars in the GP3 Series from the start of this season until 2015. Bamboo are by no means novices in top level motorsport – indeed the British company do enjoy a solid reputation in the WTCC, having finished runner-up in the Independent’s Trophy in 2010, following their takeover of Tempus Sport in 2009.
The team announced on Thursday that Venezuelan racer Roberto La Rocca is to race for their GP3 Series effort this season. La Rocca last year won the North American F2000 Championship – not to be confused with the US F2000 Series – with HP Tech, taking eleven wins in fourteen races. He is a prodigy of Ralph Firman.

2013 GP3 Series pre-season test (Wednesday February 20th)
Pos  Driver                 Team         Time        Laps 
 1.  Carlos Sainz Jr        MW Arden     1m26.816s   29 
 2.  Daniil Kvyat           MW Arden     1m27.616s   27 
 3.  Tio Ellinas            Manor        1m27.681s   19 
 4.  David Fumanelli        Trident      1m27.714s   26 
 5.  Kevin Korjus           Koiranen     1m27.846s   25 
 6.  Robert Visoiu          MW Arden     1m27.871s   24 
 7.  Giovanni Venturini     Trident      1m28.021s   30 
 8.  Patric Niederhauser    Jenzer       1m28.068s   42 
 9.  Facu Regalia           ART          1m28.112s   27 
10.  Conor Daly             ART          1m28.309s   28 
11.  Jack Harvey            ART          1m28.509s   21 
12.  Patrick Kujala         Koiranen     1m28.614s   24 
13.  Aaro Vainio            Koiranen     1m28.791s   19 
14.  Alex Fontana           Jenzer       1m28.844s   28 
15.  Nick Yelloly           Carlin       1m29.019s   28 
16.  Adderly Fong           Status       1m29.029s   26 
17.  Emanuele Zonzini       Trident      1m29.159s   28 
18.  Dino Zamparelli        Manor        1m29.201s   30 
19.  Josh Webster           Status       1m29.417s   27 
20.  Samin Gomez            Jenzer       1m29.682s   35 
21.  Vicky Piria            Manor        1m29.816s   27 
22.  Eric Lichtenstein      Carlin       1m29.852s   27 
23.  Ethan Ringel           Bamboo       1m30.266s   27 
24.  Luis Sa Silva          Carlin       1m30.477s   26 
25.  Jimmy Eriksson         Status       1m30.694s   29 
26.  Lewis Williamson       Bamboo       1m31.142s    9 
27.  Roberto La Rocca       Bamboo       1m31.313s   13
2013 GP3 Series pre-season test (Thursday February 21st)
Pos  Driver                  Team        Time     Laps 
 1.  Carlos Sainz Jr         MW Arden    1m27.654s  31 
 2.  Giovanni Venturini      Trident     1m27.939s  26 
 3.  Tio Ellinas             Manor       1m27.971s  40 
 4.  Conor Daly              ART         1m28.026s  32 
 5.  Daniil Kvyat            MW Arden    1m28.071s  34 
 6.  Kevin Korjus            Koiranen    1m28.151s  29 
 7.  Alex Fontana            Jenzer      1m28.156s  26 
 8.  David Fumanelli         Trident     1m28.261s  27 
 9.  Jack Harvey             ART         1m28.517s  22 
10.  Facu Regalia            ART         1m28.722s  28 
11.  Patrick Kujala          Koiranen    1m28.729s  27 
12.  Nick Yelloly            Carlin      1m28.734s  29 
13.  Emanuele Zonzini        Trident     1m28.787s  37 
14.  Dino Zamparelli         Manor       1m29.045s  32 
15.  Aaro Vainio             ART         1m29.191s  26 
16.  Robert Visoiu           MW Arden    1m29.342s  22 
17.  Samin Gomez             Jenzer      1m29.556s  35 
18.  Roberto La Rocca        Bamboo      1m29.570s  26 
19.  Jimmy Eriksson          Status      1m29.574s  34 
20.  Josh Webster            Status      1m29.640s  34 
21.  Ethan Ringel            Bamboo      1m29.748s  22 
22.  Eric Lichtenstein       Carlin      1m29.768s  40 
23.  Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer      1m29.808s  32 
24.  Melville McKee          Status      1m30.241s  43 
25.  Vicky Piria             Manor       1m30.383s  33 
26.  Luis Sa Silva           Carlin      1m30.425s  33 
27.  Ryan Cullen             Bamboo      1m31.347s  33
2013 GP3 Series pre-season test (Friday February 22nd)
Pos  Driver                  Team        Time     Laps 
 1.  Lewis Williamson        Bamboo      1m27.675s  44 
 2.  Daniil Kvyat            MW Arden    1m27.763s  46 
 3.  Robert Visoiu           MW Arden    1m27.848s  66 
 4.  Jack Harvey             ART         1m28.080s  60 
 5.  Dino Zamparelli         Manor       1m28.139s  63 
 6.  David Fumanelli         Trident     1m28.159s  52 
 7.  Alex Fontana            Jenzer      1m28.179s  54 
 8.  Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer      1m28.212s  51  
 9.  Facu Regalia            ART         1m28.322s  60  
10.  Kevin Korjus            Koiranen    1m28.372s  53  
11.  Giovanni Venturini      Trident     1m28.385s  59  
12.  Emanuele Zonzini        Trident     1m28.459s  57 
13.  Carlos Sainz Jr         MW Arden    1m28.485s  52 
14.  Nick Cassidy            Manor       1m28.522s  74 
15.  Conor Daly              ART         1m28.923s  63 
16.  Aaro Vainio             Koiranen    1m29.044s  74 
17.  Ethan Ringel            Bamboo      1m29.076s  42 
18.  Nick Yelloly            Carlin      1m29.104s  56 
19.  Patrick Kujala          Koiranen    1m29.335s  41 
20.  Luis Sa Silva           Carlin      1m29.341s  75 
21.  Vicky Piria             Manor       1m29.461s  54 
22.  Josh Webster            Status      1m29.648s  52 
23.  Eric Lichtenstein       Carlin      1m29.823s  69 
24.  Samin Gomez             Jenzer      1m30.177s  77 
25.  Roberto La Rocca        Bamboo      1m30.399s  29 
26.  Melville McKee          Status      1m31.780s  37 
27.  Jimmy Eriksson          Status      1m32.761s  38

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