Jakob Ebrey Photography

Kevin Magnussen emerged on top of the free practice timesheets at Paul Ricard today in final preparations for the weekend’s trio of Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series races at the French track. Carlin’s Danish driver this afternoon lopped a tenth of a second from the best his team-mate Felipe Nasr achieved in the morning session, and was the only driver in the 20-car field to break the 2m 1s barrier.

Nasr ended the day second overall in the rankings despite being one of only two in the top 10 not to improve his time in session two. The Brazilian championship leader was in bullish mood, however. “This afternoon we tried different things with the set-up of the car,” he said, “and I am feeling confident for tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day when I need to be quick.”

Magnussen’s afternoon best of 2m 00.969s was an improvement of eight-tenths over his AM best. “This morning we had a few technical problems,” said Kevin, “but this afternoon the car was perfect. But I have been in this situation before, and I am not counting on anything.” Magnussen was robbed of a near certain third-race win at the Nürburgring a fortnight ago by an engine issue which the Carlin team hopes has been eliminated.

Second quickest this afternoon, and third overall for the day, was Hitech’s impressive Portuguese signing Antonio Felix da Costa, whose best was a 2m 01.148s, slightly ahead of his Brazilian team-mate Pietro Fantin. Carlin’s Rupert Svendsen-Cook was top Brit, in fifth, with Fortec’s William Buller pipping his team-mate Lucas Foresti to ninth and the best Mercedes-powered runner.

In his first competitive outing in an International class car, Bart Hylkema set 16th best time this morning and improved to 15th in the afternoon. “I tested a Volkswagen-powered Dallara last October so I sort of knew what to expect; things are going well and I am pleased,” said T-Sport’s Dutchman.

Official qualifying at the South of France circuit is scheduled for Saturday morning, followed in the afternoon by Round 16. Rounds 17 and 18 are on Sunday. British Formula 3 enjoys the headlining support of Cooper Tires and is additionally backed by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Free Practice, Paul Ricard FRA / 15/7/2011

Championship class am/pm times
1  Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.772s / 2m 00.969s
2  Felipe NASR / BRA,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.073s / 2m 01.201s
3  Antonio Felix da COSTA / POR,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.624s / 2m 01.148
4  Pietro FANTIN / BRA,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.104s / 2m 01.516s
5  Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-VW  2m 01.989s / 2m 01.634s
6  Carlos HUERTAS / COL,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.051s / 2m 01.655s
7  Jack HARVEY / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 01.816s / 2m 01.664s
8  Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 02.843s / 2m 01.821s
9  William BULLER /GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 01.914s / 2m 01.956s
10  Lucas FORESTI / BRA,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 03.139s / 2m 02.025s etc

Rookie class
1  Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN,  Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda  2m 06.765s / 2m 04.897s

Full timesheets http://bit.ly/oJQaiF