The first pre-season test for GP3 Series arrived in Circuito do Estoril, Portugal.The pit lane opened under wet and windy conditions as the cars made their way out on track. Halfway through the session, Schothorst was the quickest man on track with a 1:43.764 lap which he held for a majority of the session.
As the rain fell heavier, the cars fled back into the pits to wait it out. Shortly later, the sun made a slight comeback, allowing the cars to make their way back out on track for the final hour of the session. Kari topped the sheets by 0.6s over Brit Russell. Coming into the final stages, and finally seeing a dry track, Schothorst was tipped for the top spot by Lorandi.
In the closing stages as the track died, the top spot was consistantly changing until the chequered flag fell.
Day 1, Morning Session Results:
P2 – Kari (1:36.908), P5 – Pulcini (1:37.127), P6 – Schothorst (1:37.233)
The track had dried for the afternoon session, and as the light went green, Pulcini sat at the top of the timesheets until proceedings came to a halt 50 minutes into the session, with a car stopped on turn 2. At the restart, the team got to grips with the newly added DRS device for this season - alongside continuing to run their testing program, focusing on the long run pace of the car, as well as tyre management which would be a great factor once again this season.
Day 1, Afternoon Session Results:
P9 – Kari (1:28.478), P11 – Pulcini (1:28.602), P12 – Schothorst (1:28.641)
Day two was greeted by glorious Portuguese sunshine for the morning session, but it didn’t stick around for long – grey clouds emerged as the pit lane opened which led to scramble of cars making way onto the track to make the most of the early running. Minutes after the cars went out on track, rain began to fall and the track was declared wet - disturbing the planned programmes of all teams.
An early red flag haltered the session whilst they retrieved a stopped car on turn 3. As the session restarted, Kari made his presence known by topping the sheets. On the one hour mark, the session was briefly haltered once again to retrieve a car stopped out on track. During this time, the weather conditions improved, but remained cold and windy. Another two red flags paused proceedings until the chequered flag ended the morning session. The Arden trio made good use of the running available in what was a very interrupted morning.
Day 2, Morning Session Results:
P7 – Kari (1:40.107), P8 – Schothorst (1:40.269), P11 – Pulcini (1:41.452)
The afternoon session got underway under blue skies and dry tyres were equipped for all cars. Schothorst was the first to go out on the slick Pirelli tyres, and set the pace at 1:37.326s.
A quarter of an hour into the session, the clouds appeared once more and the rain started to fall heavily onto the track. After a quiet period waiting for the weather to clear up in the pits, Kari led the cars back out on track, only soon to be haltered by a red flag. With the track drying out, the cars switched back to the slick tyres and headed back out for the final hour. In the remaining minutes of the session, Schothorst improved on his time, before another red flag ended the day.
Day 2, Afternoon Session Results:
P5 – Schothorst (1:28.913), P6 – Kari (1:28.938), P7 – Pulcini (1:29.444)
Overall the Arden team made good use of the available track time to make good headway in setup work and tyre management for the 2017 season.
The GP3 team will next head out to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the second pre-season test on 19th-20th April, which will be a crucial test ahead of the opening round of the season which will also take place at Barcelona on the 13th-14th May.