Imola Auto GP: Kimiya Sato and Markus Pommer share practice honours
Kimiya Sato and Markus Pommer shared the honours in the two Imola Auto GP practice sessions on Friday
Reunited with the Euronova Racing squad after missing the last event at Monza, Sato, who heads Pommer in the championship by just nine points following the German's Monza win, had initially set an identical time to his title rival.
It took until the final minute of the afternoon session for the Japanese to move ahead on a 1m32.349s, just over five hundredths of a second faster.
Pommer had earlier topped the timesheets in the morning session with a 1m32.380s lap in his Super Nova run Lola-Zytek.
Michela Cerruti continued to show encouraging pace following her Monza podium with the third-best time in the morning session.
Monza race two victor Kevin Giovesi, now racing under the FMS banner, placed fourth and third in the two sessions while his team-mate and reigning champion Vittorio Ghirelli encountered gearbox issues in the morning, restricting his running to just a handful of laps.
Ghirelli is making another return to the series this weekend, having previously finished second at the Hungaroring in May before sitting out Monza last month. He had begun the season in Indy Lights.
Pal Varhaug also makes a return to Auto GP at Imola after finishing runner-up in the series two years ago. The Norwegian placed fifth and fourth in the Friday sessions in his Virtuosi UK entered Lola-Zytek.
Varhaug is competing a full season of GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport, and is using the Auto GP event to hone his qualifying performances for the rest of his 2014 campaign.
Tamas Pal Kiss endured a disappointing start to the weekend with an engine-related problem in his Zele Racing prepared Lola in the morning.
The Hungarian, who is third in the points standings and making his Imola debut this weekend, was forced to sit out most of the opening session while first the spark plugs and then the wiring loom were changed on his car.
A similar problem in the second session left Kiss with just nine compromised laps under his belt as he goes into qualifying on Saturday morning.
Practice one: Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Markus Pommer Super Nova 1m32.380s 2. Kimiya Sato Euronova 1m32.761s +0.381s 3. Michela Cerruti Super Nova 1m33.237s +0.857s 4. Kevin Giovesi FMS 1m33.374s +0.994s 5. Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK 1m33.481s +1.101s 6. Christof von Grunigen Zele 1m34.020s +1.640s 7. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK 1m34.039s +1.659s 8. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza 1m34.727s +2.347s 9. Francesco Dracone Super Nova 1m34.997s +2.617s 10. Tamas Pal Kiss Zele 1m35.254s +2.874s 11. Michele La Rosa MLR 71/Euronova 1m35.654s +3.274s 12. Vittorio Ghirelli FMS 1m42.034s +9.654s 13. Salvatore De Plano Euronova 1m43.457s +11.077s Practice two: Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Kimiya Sato Euronova 1m32.349s 2. Markus Pommer Super Nova 1m32.401s +0.052s 3. Kevin Giovesi FMS 1m33.728s +0.379s 4. Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK 1m33.330s +0.981s 5. Michela Cerruti Super Nova 1m33.351s +1.002s 6. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK 1m33.539s +1.190s 7. Christof von Grunigen Zele 1m33.873s +1.524s 8. Francesco Dracone Super Nova 1m34.185s +1.836s 9. Vittorio Ghirelli FMS 1m34.473s +2.124s 10. Michele La Rosa MLR 71/Euronova 1m34.684s +2.335s 11. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza 1m34.805s +2.456s 12. Salvatore De Plano Euronova 1m39.757s +7.408s 13. Tamas Pal Kiss Zele 1m42.236s +9.887s
Monza Auto GP: Kevin Giovesi triumphs in race two
Imola Auto GP: Markus Pommer beats Kimiya Sato to pole