Clarke, who recorded his maiden F2 podium at the track during his 2010 championship campaign, was in imperious form during yesterday’s running and carried his momentum on to make the perfect start to the final day of testing in Portugal.
He was pushed incredibly hard by Benjamin Lariche however, with the Frenchman eventually finishing just one hundredth of a second behind Clarke in second. Lariche too has previous form at the circuit, having qualified fifth here – his second best performance of the season.
The margin between the lead pair could have been even closer, only for Clarke to extend his advanateg by the narrowest of margins on his final tour of the track, which turned out to also be the last lap of the session.
Ramón Piñeiro was in impressive form in the early session, and sat at the top of the timesheets at the halfway stage of the session. He dropped down the order slightly as the session progressed and the track yielded increasing performance, but a late surge in the final minutes helped him to finish third fastest, little more than one tenth of a second behind Clarke.
Piñeiro’s late effort demoted Jolyon Palmer into fourth, the Briton having run inside the top three for the majority of the session. His best effort was within a quarter of a second of Clarke’s benchmark.
Thiemo Storz opted to only complete 18 laps in the morning, the least of any driver, but the German was again impressive as he recorded the fifth fastest time of the morning.
Behind him, Alex Brundle was sixth fastest as he reacclimatises to the Williams JPH1B F2 car following a campaign in the series in 2009. Brundle had been second fastest at the halfway stage of the session, but like Piñeiro dropped back a little as the track improved toward the end of the morning’s running.
André Negrão meanwhile built upon a steady opening day by claiming the seventh fastest time, the Brazilian finishing within one second of Clarke’s ultimate best. Impressively, his time was faster than his final efforts in yesterday’s overboost-enabled session.
Natalia Kowalska finished fractionally more than one second off Clarke’s best in eighth, ahead of fellow 2010 championship contender Plamen Kralev – the Bulgarian finding almost eight tenths of a second on his final tour of the track to jump into ninth. Max Snegirev was demoted to tenth as a result, finishing less than three hundredths of a second down the road.
Mikkel Mac and Jose Alonso Liste both joined the test for today, and it was Mac who eventually emerged fastest of the pair as he claimed 11th spot, 11 thousandths of a second ahead of the Spaniard. Mac had one early spin to contend with, while Alonso Liste had been third fastest at the session’s halfway stage.
Bruno Mendez rounded out the day’s runners in 13th, after Nigel Moore and Adriano Buzaid were unable to attend due to adverse weather conditions. The Spaniard will have been pleased to have completed 41 laps during the morning – the most of any driver.
FIA Formula Two Championship – Portimão – Day Two, Morning Session:
1. Jack Clarke, 1:35.698s
2.Benjamin Lariche, +0.010s
3. Ramón Piñeiro, +0.177s
4. Jolyon Palmer, +0.243s
5. Thiemo Storz, +0.533s
6. Alex Brundle, +0.796s
7. André Negrão, +0.983s
8. Natalia Kowalska, +1.032s
9. Plamen Kralev, +1.246s
10. Max Snegirev, +1.273s
11. Mikkel Mac, +1.427s
12. Jose Alonso Liste, +1.438s
13. Bruno Mendez, +2.123s