Pentus tops Monaco FR3.5 practice

Motorland winner Sten Pentus set the fastest time in Formula Renault 3.5 free practice at Monaco this morning

Pentus tops Monaco FR3.5 practice

The Estonian staged a late effort of 1m27.928s to edge out championship leader Mikhail Aleshin by 0.271s. A subsequent heavy accident by Draco's Julian Leal on the approach to the chicane scattered debris across the track, and with Formula 1 practice imminent, would influence the session being abandoned with two minutes left on the clock.

"Well, it's going better than last year," said Pentus. "I know the circuit and where to brake now. Half of the circuit has been resurfaced and there is much more grip. I was really surprised as I was expecting it to be slippery.

"I just started out going step by step, but before putting on new tyres I hadn't had a single lap without traffic. People were backing off to find space much more than last year, it was more of a lottery. When you came up to pass people they were moving around trying to cover you, which was a bit odd as they weren't pushing. I guess that this is a different circuit, different everything, so people have a different approach."

In his maiden outing, GP3 reverse-grid winner Alexander Rossi took little time to adapt to the category. The American benefits from familiarity with his ISR squad, having won three races with the Czech team in Formula Master last season. Rossi was competitive throughout, setting a benchmark 10 minutes in and ending the morning in third place. ISR's outgoing driver Esteban Guerrieri was in supporting attendance and aims to continue with the team for the remainder of the season.

Local driver Stefano Coletti followed his double podium at Spa with fourth today. The Comtec driver made his series debut at last year's Monaco event in a one-off outing with his former F3 outfit Prema Powerteam.

Despite sustaining heavy damage to the right rear corner of his car in his accident at the chicane, Leal took fifth.

Daniil Move put in a strong showing to end the morning in sixth for Junior Lotus Racing, ahead of Rossi's ISR team-mate Filip Salaquarda and, second in the standings, British Formula 3 champion Daniel Ricciardo.

Italian Formula 3 champion Daniel Zampieri toppled Aleshin to briefly head the timesheet as the session got under way, but the Ferrari Driver Academy man was forced to pit a smokey Pons car a quarter of an hour into the 45-minute session. Although the Italian later rejoined the fray, he would slip to an eventual 12th place. Team-mate and compatriot Federico Leo fared worse, damaging his front-left wheel after just two laps.

Jon Lancaster was another to find the barriers, the Fortec driver running off the road at Mirabeau. P1 Motorsport's Jan Charouz was lucky to escape a more serious incident when he lost adhesion on the entry to Massanet, the Czech's P1 Motorsport machine showing little signs of damage from the high-speed spin.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sten Pentus Fortec 1m27.928s 2. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1m28.199s + 0.271s 3. Alexander Rossi ISR 1m28.814s + 0.886s 4. Stefano Coletti Comtec 1m28.864s + 0.936s 5. Julian Leal Draco 1m28.987s + 1.059s 6. Daniil Move Junior Lotus 1m29.002s + 1.074s 7. Filip Salaquarda ISR 1m29.158s + 1.230s 8. Daniel Ricciardo Tech 1 1m29.237s + 1.309s 9. Nelson Panciatici Junior Lotus 1m29.260s + 1.332s 10. Brendon Hartley Tech 1 1m29.382s + 1.454s 11. Greg Mansell Comtec 1m29.416s + 1.488s 12. Daniel Zampieri Pons 1m29.630s + 1.702s 13. Jan Charouz P1 1m30.111s + 2.183s 14. Victor Garcia KMP 1m30.191s + 2.263s 15. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin 1m30.761s + 2.833s 16. Bruno Mendez FHV Interwetten 1m30.940s + 3.012s 17. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 1m31.029s + 3.101s 18. Albert Costa Epsilon Euskadi 1m31.389s + 3.461s 19. Keisuke Kunimoto Epsilon Euskadi 1m31.663s + 3.735s 20. Walter Grubmuller P1 1m32.491s + 4.563s 21. Nathanael Berthon Draco 1m32.910s + 4.982s 22. Sergio Canamasas FHV Interwetten 1m33.108s + 5.180s 23. Jon Lancaster Fortec 1m34.219s + 6.291s 24. Federico Leo Pons 2m26.708s + 58.780s 
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