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Monras sets the early pace in Barcelona

Tuesday, December 13 2011

Miki Monras set the early pace during the morning session on day one of official Formula Two testing in Barcelona.

The 19-year-old Spaniard, who finished fourth in this year's F2 season, posted a best time of 1:35.950s early on in the first of two 55-minute stints on new tyres when temperatures were cooler.

Fellow returnee Mihai Marinescu finished second for the morning, just 0.142s behind with Italian newcomer Vittorio Ghirelli third overall after impressing in the second hour.

The day began in dry but cold conditions with the sun beginning to peak its way through the clouds. For many drivers the session marked their first ever time in the 500bhp F2 car, using the opening 55-minute stint to acclimatise themselves with it.

Unsurprisingly, returning drivers Monras, Marinescu, Kelvin Snoeks and Christopher Zanella Zanella were quick off the mark with the Spaniard in particular lapping in the 1:36s - quicker than Mirko Bortolotti's pole lap from the recent rounds here in October.

Newcomers Markus Pommer, who finished seventh in this year's ATS Formel 3 Cup, wasn't far behind though as were Italians Ghirelli, who ran in GP3 this year and Edoardo Liberati who finished fifth in Italian F3.

Frenchman Maxime Jousse, younger brother of 2009 F2 racer Julien, also looked quick running in the top two early on in only his second F2 test after running sixth overall this time last year. German Riccardo Brutschin, who's father Harold raced with F2 Chief Executive Jonathan in the 1980s, also impressed in the first stint together with two-time McLaren Autosport Award finalist Scott Malvern who hopes to step up to F2 in 2012. A red flag late in the first hour, however, meant drivers were unable to further improve their times with Monras ending the opening hour top with a 1:35.950s.

The temperature continued to increase for the second hour with Pommer this time leading the way until a second red flag early in the session when Liberati ran wide at Turn 4. The green flag was quickly waved with Brutschin on top lapping in the mid 1:36s ahead of Pommer and Zanella, the latter suffering from a minor injury to his right arm following a snowmobile accident sustained in the same manner as F1 star Kimi Räikkönen.

A second flag brought a brief halt to proceedings but the session was soon restarted with the 18 drives eager to improve on their times before the lunch interval.

Brutschin did go top for the second hour but his time was disallowed after he cut the chicane leaving Ghirelli to take the honours with him Pommer and Liberati all looking strong on their debuts.

British drivers Malvern, Daniel McKenzie and Aaron Steele also made solid starts to their F2 tests as did Alex Fontana - one of four Swiss drivers competing.
Meanwhile, 2011 MSA Formula Ford Champion of Great Britain runner-up Jeroen Slaghekke had been scheduled to test in Barcelona but has been forced to postpone his run following an injury sustained to his hand.

Testing continues this afternoon with full coverage available on www.formulatwo.com.

Barcelona winter testing, day one morning results:

1. Miki Monras, 1:35.950s
2. Mihai Marinescu, 1:36.092s
3. Vittorio Ghirelli, 1:36.723s
4. Markus Pommer, 1:36.874s
5. Maxime Jousse, 1:37.292s
6. Christopher Zanella, 1:37.353s
7. Scott Malvern, 1:37.641s
8. Edoardo Liberati, 1:37.656s
9. Kelvin Snoeks, 1:37.685s
10. Alex Fontana, 1:37.686