On the return of the Formula Renault 3.5 at Circuit Bugatti Le Mans, the category track record was broken in the collective tests. With a lap of 1:22.321, Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) broke the previous record set by Fabio Carbone in 2008. The French driver was followed by the quickest among the rookies on Friday, Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport) and Dean Stoneman (DAMS). Championship leader, Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) posted the quickest time in the morning session.
Rowland by 0.777s
Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) set the day’s opening reference time before an interruption caused by Alfonso Celis (AVF). When practice resumed, the DAMS entries of Dean Stoneman and Nyck de Vries shot to the top of the time sheet before the leader in the general classification answered as did Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus). The Frenchman led the way for a long portion of the session until Oliver Rowland set his best time of 1:22.791. Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing), Dean Stoneman and André Negrão (International Draco Racing) completed the top five.
Track record for Dillmann
After a brief red flag caused by Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports), Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) was first to beat the morning’s best time. Late in the session, the Frenchman improved his time to 1:22.321, and that was that with Egor Orudzhev, Dean Stoneman, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Tio Ellinas slotting at the end of session that was prematurely interrupted by Nikita Zlobin (Pons Racing). The sessions were marked by the squashing of several lap times for exceeding the track limits by several drivers.
Tom Dillmann: “We ran on fresh tyres this morning before using new rubber this afternoon. I set a good time without short-cutting, which is a good sign. From the cockpit it is very hard to see if we are short-cutting or not. We have to find where we can go, while still going fast, which isn’t easy! We only have to do two laps in qualifying. You have to set the time quickly, while staying on the track. Because no one has any experience with this car at this track evens it up for the teams and that helps us in a way.”
Egor Orudzhev: “It was not a bad day. I think having raced here in 2012 helped me, but it is a new track for the team and we still have a lot of things to improve, especially the balance of the car. We still have tonight to do some work. Sometimes, we came close to short-cutting, and sometimes we did short cut. We are always on the limit. The rules are the same for everyone!”
André Negrão: “I love this car and it is good to be back in it. With its lateral speeds, it is completely different to a GP2, which is just longitudinal. Even though I don’t have a team mate, we will push to do everything we can. I am here to get some training and there is no specific goal. This track is better adapted to MotoGP with its very low curbs. It is hard to tell from the cockpit if we cross the lines. It could be a problem tomorrow in qualifying and we have to talk about it during the briefing.”