Having taken his maiden F2 podium at the circuit in July, Clarke looked in good touch throughout the day and ended at the top of the timesheets in two of the day’s three sessions.
In rapidly cooling conditions at the close of the day, the Briton posted a 1:35.515s to finish more than three tenths clear of the rest of the field and ensure a perfect start to his winter testing campaign.
Behind Clarke, an inspired Alex Brundle finished the day in style by recording the second fastest lap. The Briton, who competed in F2 in 2009 before switching to F3 for this season, gradually eased himself back into the groove. He was sixth fastest in the afternoon, but improved markedly in the final 40 minute run to post the second fastest time.
That demoted this afternoon’s pace setter Benjamin Lariche into third, although the Frenchman finished within one tenth of Brundle. Having achieved his second best qualifying result of 2010 at the Portuguese circuit, Lariche was in good form throughout the day and finished inside the top four in all three sessions.
A tight battle for fourth was eventually claimed by Jolyon Palmer, the Briton edging out Germany’s Kevin Mirocha by less than four hundredths of a second. Antonio Felix da Costa also challenged for the position, but eventually had to settle for sixth fastest, little more than two hundredths of a second down the road. The Portuguese star had earlier impressed by finishing second fastest in both morning and afternoon sessions in what is his maiden experience of the Williams JPH1B F2 car.
Ramón Piñeiro enjoyed a strong final session to finish seventh fastest, little more than seven tenths of a second off Clarke’s ultimate benchmark, while fellow Formula Palmer Audi competitor Max Snegirev rounded out the top eight.
André Negrão continued to acclimatise to the F2 car on the opening day of testing and finished tenth fastest, narrowly behind experienced F2 pilot Plamen Kralev. Behind them Natalia Kowalska finished 11th, with Thiemo Storz – third and fifth fastest in the day’s opening two sessions – slipping slightly to finish the day 12th fastest.
Bruno Mendez rounded out the evening runners in 13th, with Vincent Beltoise 14th fastest overall after contesting the opening half of the day as his prize for finishing isixth in the 2010 Formula Palmer Audi Championship.
FIA Formula Two Championship – Portimão – Day One, Final Session:
1. Jack Clarke, 1:35.515s
2. Alex Brundle, +0.312s
3. Benjamin Lariche, +0.395s
4. Jolyon Palmer, +0.458s
5. Kevin Mirocha, +0.495s
6. Antonio Felix da Costa, +0.517s
7. Ramón Piñeiro, +0.787s
8. Max Snegirev, +1.146s
9. Plamen Kralev, +1.399s
10. André Negrão, +1.853s
11. Natalia Kowalska, +1.887s
12. Thiemo Storz, +2.113s
13. Bruno Mendez, +2.187s