Hungaroring Auto GP: Vittorio Ghirelli takes practice clean sweep
Vittorio Ghirelli completed a clean sweep of fastest times from Auto GP sessions at the Hungaroring by carrying his dominant Friday testing form into Saturday's pair of half-hour free practice sessions
The Italian recorded the fastest lap of the weekend in free practice one with a time of 1m32.662s. Ghirelli was the only driver to lap in the 1m32s and finished a comfortable 0.774 seconds ahead of series debutant Tamas Pal Kiss.
Championship leader Kimiya Sato took a while to ascend towards the head of the classification, but jumped from sixth to third on his last lap after the chequered flag had dropped on FP1.
Times in Saturday afternoon's free practice two were generally slower, but the leading runners proved tightly matched. Ghirelli was presented with strong challenges from the impressive Kiss and Monza polesitter Riccardo Agostini.
Kiss came within just 0.004s of Ghirelli's benchmark time of 1m33.647s. Only 0.016s separated the top three, which was completed by reigning Italian Formula 3 champion Agostini.
"Everything is good for now, but obviously we have to make sure we stay on top for quali," said Ghirelli. "If it gets hotter I think pole will be just under the 1m34s, if it's like this morning perhaps a low 1m32s will be possible."
Teams had little incentive to run new rubber during free practice. Auto GP's sporting regulations prevented the use of any new tyres allocated for Friday's Hungaroring test to be held over for practice. The three sets of new tyres each team receives for the race weekend are set to be reserved for qualifying and Sunday's two races.
The top three drivers from free practice one used fresh, but not brand new, soft compound tyres to record their times.
GP2 driver Daniel de Jong took fourth in FP1, 0.024s ahead of Narain Karthikeyan, who ran a harder compound of Kumhos.
Sergio Campana, who is four points behind early-season leader Sato in the drivers' standings, suffered a slightly disappointing morning performance in seventh.
The Italian and his Ibiza Racing team responded to take fourth in the afternoon session, ahead of his Japanese adversary.
Practice one: Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova 1m33.604s 2. Riccardo Agostini Manor MP 1m34.172s + 0.568s 3. Narain Karthikeyan Zele 1m34.460s + 0.856s 4. Daniel de Jong Manor MP 1m34.527s + 0.923s 5. Sergio Campana Ibiza 1m34.631s + 1.027s 6. Kimiya Sato Euronova 1m34.721s + 1.117s 7. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani 1m35.009s + 1.405s 8. Tamas Pal Kiss MLR 71 1m35.101s + 1.497s 9. Luciano Bacheta Zele 1m35.238s + 1.634s 10. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP 1m35.677s + 2.073s 11. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK 1m35.742s + 2.138s 12. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza 1m35.811s + 2.207s 13. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova 1m36.217s + 2.613s 14. Francesco Dracone Super Nova 1m36.259s + 2.655s 15. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi UK 1m36.379s + 2.775s 16. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 1m39.044s + 5.440s Practice two: Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova 1m33.647s 2. Tamas Pal Kiss MLR 71 1m33.651s + 0.004s 3. Riccardo Agostini Manor MP 1m33.663s + 0.016s 4. Sergio Campana Ibiza 1m33.755s + 0.108s 5. Kimiya Sato Euronova 1m33.846s + 0.199s 6. Narain Karthikeyan Zele 1m34.119s + 0.472s 7. Daniel de Jong Manor MP 1m34.209s + 0.562s 8. Luciano Bacheta Zele 1m35.180s + 1.533s 9. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova 1m35.191s + 1.544s 10. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani 1m35.348s + 1.701s 11. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP 1m35.369s + 1.722s 12. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK 1m35.761s + 2.114s 13. Francesco Dracone Super Nova 1m36.100s + 2.453s 14. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi UK 1m36.202s + 2.555s 15. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza 1m36.375s + 2.728s 16. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 1m37.437s + 3.790s
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