Luca Filippi sets the FP1 pace on his return to Auto GP

Luca Filippi marked his return to AutoGP by setting an emphatic early benchmark in the first practice session at Valencia

Luca Filippi sets the FP1 pace on his return to Auto GP

The Italian missed the last round in Germany due to GP2 commitments, losing his lead in the points standings as a consequence.

The Super Nova driver made the best possible start to on his return weekend - AutoGP's penultimate round of 2011 - as he finished almost half a second clear of the rest of the field.

Lazarus' Fabrizio Crestani led the response, his 1m24.610s effort enough for second but 0.440s shy of Filippi's outright best.

At his home circuit Adrian Campos Jr was third fastest, ahead of one of Filippi's main title rivals Sergey Afanasiev.

Like Filippi, Afanasiev has missed one round - due to visa problems he could not travel to Donington Park - but a win and a second last time out put him back in contention. He was fourth fastest, just under 0.7s behind Filippi.

Campos Racing duo Adrien Tambay and Adam Carroll were split by just 0.018s in fifth and sixth respectively, ahead of current championship leader Kevin Ceccon of Ombra Racing.

Ceccon did just enough to steal the series lead in Germany, but his current two-point advantage over Filippi will be looking even slimmer after he finished more than 0.8s slower than the Italian.

DAMS driver Rio Haryanto edged out Durango's Giovanni Venturini for eighth, but the pair were both more than 1s off the overall best. Lazarus' Fabio Onidi rounded out the top 10.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Luca Filippi Super Nova 1m24.170s 2. Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus 1m24.610s + 0.440s 3. Adrian Campos Jr Campos 1m24.656s + 0.486s 4. Sergei Afanasiev DAMS 1m24.861s + 0.691s 5. Adrien Tambay Campos 1m24.911s + 0.741s 6. Adam Carroll Campos 1m24.929s + 0.759s 7. Kevin Ceccon Ombra 1m24.983s + 0.813s 8. Rio Haryanto DAMS 1m25.201s + 1.031s 9. Giovanni Venturini Durango 1m25.222s + 1.052s 10. Fabio Onidi Lazarus 1m25.429s + 1.259s 11. Daniel de Jong MP 1m25.791s + 1.621s 12. Pasquale di Sabatino TP 1m26.728s + 2.558s 13. Francesco Dracone Emmebi 1m26.797s + 2.627s 14. Giuseppe Cipriani Durango 1m26.908s + 2.738s 15. Samuele Buttarelli TP 1m27.641s + 3.471s 
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Luca Filippi stays on top iin a rain-hit second practice in Valencia

Luca Filippi stays on top iin a rain-hit second practice in Valencia
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