- James Pull heads incredibly evenly matched Ford EcoBoost-powered field.
- Alex Quinn and Luis Leeds at the front of the chasing pack.
DONINGTON PARK 14 APRIL, 2016 – Carlin’s James Pull topped the times in Ford MSA Formula’s pre-race test at Donington Park today, just as he did at the Brands Hatch opener a fortnight ago. He headed a super-close field where the top 15 drivers were covered by just a second.
Fresh from a hat-trick of podiums at the season opener, Pull was fifth fastest in the morning and let loose in the afternoon, posting the quickest time of 1:08.195 halfway through the session.
It was a time that left Pull over three tenths clear of the field, but Fortec Motorsports’ Alex Quinn and TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds hit back in the final minutes to see them finish second and third fastest respectively, with Quinn just over a tenth off of Pull.
Said Pull: “I really enjoy driving this circuit and it’s my favourite on the calendar. We hooked up a great lap. There’s still more in the bag, but it felt really good and I’m very happy.
“It’s all about getting in the groove at Donington. Finding a rhythm, staying smooth and not overdriving. The goal is to get the win this weekend. Qualifying will be tense. I just need to stay calm and focus.”
Quinn added: “I think we are quick enough to be fastest. In the second session I was really improving towards the end and the chequered flag came just too soon. I learnt loads at Brands and now it’s time to put it into action.”
Said TRS Arden team manager Ben Bloomfield of Leeds’ performance: “It was disappointing that Luis got held up in traffic at the end of his run, but from the sector times we know that we’ve got the pace in the car. He’s already feeling quite confident which is very impressive given that he’s never driven around this circuit before.”
An entertaining morning session saw the track move from wet to dry and it was Quinn who grabbed the attention by topping the times, but only just. JHR’s Sennan Fielding was less than three thousandths of a second away from the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver.
All drivers improved upon their morning’s best efforts thanks to far better track conditions, but Fielding was the exception to the rule due to technical problems.
TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins found himself third quickest in the morning and ended the day fifth fastest overall. “We were quick this morning”, said Martins. “I think a P2 or P3 grid slot is possible. We’ll obviously aim for pole, but James Pull was very fast today. We’ll look at the data to try to find something extra for qualifying and I’m sure our race pace will be even stronger.”
Harry Hayek was another who seemed to revel in the morning’s variable conditions ending up seventh and just dropping outside of the top ten by the time the chequered flag fell on the test, with his Jamun team-mate Jamie Caroline finishing several places ahead of him.
Said Hayek: “It’s been an up and down day. The first session was wet and then it was drying. We were right up there. In the second session we struggled a bit, but we’ll look at the data and aim to break into the top ten in qualifying.”
Championship leader Petru Florescu had a relatively quiet day in tenth, but after his emphatic performance just two weeks ago, it’s hard to believe that there’s not plenty more pace up the Romanian’s sleeve.
It was a premature end to the day for Patrik Matthiesen who brought out the red flags with 20 minutes remaining after beaching his car in the gravel at Coppice. Nevertheless, the Dane was quick early on suggesting he’s capable of bringing home his first points of the season.
With the field so evenly matched, everyone is eagerly awaiting qualifying at 1100 on Saturday and for the lights go out in the first of the weekend’s three races at 1500.
Ford MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by EcoBoost
Leading testing times Donington Park 14 April, 2016 (am/pm)
1 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:09.297 / 1:08.195
2 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:08.966 / 1:08.337
3 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 1:09.205 / 1:08.407
4 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:09.515 / 1:08.571
5 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 1:09.085 / 1:08.674
6 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 1:09.813 / 1:08.773
7 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:09.448 / 1:08.792
8 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden 1:10.537 / 1:08.827
9 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun 1:09.982 / 1:08.891
10 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:09.625 / 1:08.926 etc.