The Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective tests at Circuito de Jerez went the way of Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport). The Russian driver kicked off the battle for third place in the general classification and rookie of the year honours by posting the best time of the day with a lap of 1:28.758 in the morning session. The SMP Racing protégé was followed by Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), who also set the quickest time in the afternoon. The two AVF drivers, Beitske Visser and Alfonso Celis and Nyck de Vries (DAMS) completed the Friday top five.
Orudzhev sets the tone
In the morning, Beitske Visser put in the opening reference time, which was then beaten by Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport), Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) and Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports). This group swapped the top spot several times before Nyck de Vries took control at the mid-way point of the session. In the final minutes the Dutchman was displaced by Egor Orudzhev, who set a session best time of 1:28.758 to lead the way ahead of the AVF duo of Beitske Visser and Alfonso Celis, Nyck de Vries and Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport).
Vaxiviere by a half-second
Alfonso Celis began the afternoon session on top, but he was soon displaced by Nikita Zlobin (Pons Racing), the Fortec Motorsports entries of Oliver Rowland and Jazeman Jaafar as well as Tom Dillmann. The 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, Oliver Rowland was atop the time sheet before a brief stoppage to replace the Astroturf at the Curva Peluqui. The Racing Steps Foundation backed Englishman lost the top spot three minutes from the end of the session by Tom Dillmann, who began the final sprint that saw Matthieu Vaxiviere end on top with a session best time of 1:28.893. The French driver was followed by Tio Ellinas, Tom Dillmann, Oliver Rowland and Jazeman Jaafar. Sixth overall, Nyck de Vries was the fastest rookie in the session.
Egor Orudzhev: “It was a quite good Friday. I am happy with this best time of the day on my birthday and the team gave me a cake! We spent most of the morning session making the most of the conditions that we should face tomorrow. In the afternoon, we concentrated on long runs to test the endurance of the tyres. I think that we are in good shape this weekend. It would be nice to finish third in the general classification or win the rookie title. We will do our best and we will see where the others are.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere: “The car behaved oddly, but it didn’t have an impact on the day. We tried a lot of things this morning with the used tyres and we did a lot of good work between the two sessions. We are very quick over one lap in hot conditions, which is a determining factor at Jerez. There is more work to do, but our goal is unchanged: do what is best, win!”
Aurélien Panis: “It was a difficult day. This is a track where tyres degrade quickly. Although I made a few mistakes on my fastest laps, we learned a lot for Saturday. The season began with a lot of difficulties, with the little seat time we had, but everything has come together thanks to a fantastic team. The goal is to finish on a positive note this weekend.”