Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) topped the timesheets as Superleague Formula held its first-ever practice session at the Beijing International street circuit on Friday afternoon.
The British driver set a best time of 1m08.341s around the 2.733km track, set in the 2008 Olympic Games Rowing and Canoeing venue, to edge out Frederic Vervisch of Liverpool. Less than a second covered the top 10 drivers.
Behind the top two, Frenchman Franck Perera was third quickest for Bordeaux, while his countryman Julien Jousse (AS Roma) took fourth ahead of Corinthians driver Robert Doornbos.
Of the other usual frontrunners, Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) did more laps than anyone else on his way to fifth, the flu-ridden Ben Hanley (Olympiacos) was sixth and Max Wissel (FC Basel) 10th, albeit only 0.868 seconds adrift of Dolby's best. Points leader Davide Rigon only managed 13 laps and was some 2.232s off the pace in 14th.
The session saw one red flag, as Team China's Ma Qing Hua stopped at the 90-degree Turn 11 right-hander, but otherwise ran trouble-free as the drivers learned the new circuit for the first time.
Three cars did not manage any track time in the opening session. John Martin (Beijing Guoan) suffered a fuel pressure issue on his out-lap, while the Atech-Reid team opted not to run the Olympique Lyonnais car of Tristan Gommendy. Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) missed the session as he only arrived in China a couple of hours prior to the start.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur 1m08.341s 2. Frederic Vervisch Liverpool FC 1m08.519s + 0.178s 3. Franck Perera Girondins de Bordeaux 1m08.691s + 0.350s 4. Julien Jousse AS Roma 1m08.774s + 0.433s 5. Robert Doornbos Corinthians 1m08.792s + 0.451s 6. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan 1m09.008s + 0.667s 7. Ben Hanley Olympiacos 1m09.084s + 0.743s 8. Adrian Valles Sporting Clube de Portugal 1m09.100s + 0.759s 9. Andy Soucek Flamengo 1m09.200s + 0.859s 10. Max Wissel FC Basel 1m09.209s + 0.868s 11. Earl Bamber PSV Eindhoven 1m09.917s + 1.576s 12. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC 1m09.964s + 1.623s 13. Giacomo Ricci Galatasaray 1m10.232s + 1.891s 14. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht 1m10.573s + 2.232s 15. Paul Meijer Atletico de Madrid 1m11.796s + 3.455s 16. Ma Qing Ha Team China 1m17.508s + 9.167s 17. John Martin Beijing Gouan
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