Spa FR3.5: Carlos Sainz Jr sets the pace in practice
Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader Carlos Sainz Jr set the pace during free practice at Spa on Friday
The Spaniard, who leads the standings by 15 points from rookie Oliver Rowland following last weekend's Monaco round, took control of the faster afternoon session early on, and controlled the timing screens on both long run pace and qualifying simulations.
It didn't take Sainz long to surpass Sauber Formula 1 junior Sergey Sirotkin's best from the morning session, which came as no surprise as conditions were fully dry for the afternoon after some light rain had interfered with the earlier running.
Sirotkin remained a factor as the pace increased though, and he was best of the rest behind Sainz - who set two laps good enough for P1 - in the second session as well.
The afternoon running came alive in the final few minutes as teams switched their attention to preparing for Saturday morning's race one qualifying session, but even during a series of improvements from the majority of the field, Sainz was only knocked off of top spot for a few seconds.
Series returnee Richie Stanaway, who was injured in the 2012 FR3.5 event at Spa, was the driver to briefly move to the front while Sainz got up to speed in the closing stages.
By the end of the session the Lotus driver was down to seventh, having abandoned what appeared to be a faster final lap as the chequered flag came out.
Monaco podium finisher Marco Sorensen was one of those to push Stanaway back as he took third, with Pietro Fantin, Pierre Gasly and Rowland all moving towards the top in the closing moments.
Will Stevens - whose Strakka team has been working to solve issues with getting new tyres up to temperature for qualifying runs - was eighth fastest, at a circuit the Briton believes will suit his car more than the streets of Monte Carlo did last weekend.
Follow the first Spa-Francorchamps FR3.5 race as it happens on AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 14:15pm UK time on Saturday May 31st
Practice 1 Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sergey Sirotkin Fortec 2m01.777s 15 2. Pierre Gasly Arden 2m02.217s +0.440s 11 3. Carlos Sainz Jr DAMS 2m02.253s +0.476s 12 4. Marlon Stockinger Lotus 2m02.461s +0.684s 11 5. Pietro Fantin Draco 2m02.610s +0.833s 17 6. Luca Ghiotto Draco 2m02.698s +0.921s 15 7. Zoel Amberg AVF 2m02.734s +0.957s 14 8. Will Stevens Strakka 2m02.785s +1.008s 12 9. Marco Sorensen Tech 1 2m02.863s +1.086s 14 10. Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing 2m02.901s +1.124s 17 11. Will Buller Arden 2m02.909s +1.132s 12 12. Norman Nato DAMS 2m02.954s +1.177s 13 13. Jazeman Jaafar ISR 2m02.956s +1.179s 13 14. Roberto Merhi Zeta Corse 2m03.031s +1.254s 9 15. Matias Laine Strakka 2m03.583s +1.806s 9 16. Oliver Rowland Fortec 2m03.666s +1.889s 16 17. Oscar Tunjo Pons Racing 2m04.784s +3.007s 16 18. Beitske Visser AVF 2m04.828s +3.051s 15 19. Richie Stanaway Lotus 2m05.610s +3.833s 11 20. Roman Mavlanov Zeta Corse 2m06.083s +4.306s 12 Practice 2 Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Carlos Sainz Jr DAMS 1m59.139s 16 2. Sergey Sirotkin Fortec 1m59.344s +0.205s 18 3. Marco Sorensen Tech 1 1m59.607s +0.468s 18 4. Pietro Fantin Draco 1m59.661s +0.522s 19 5. Pierre Gasly Arden 1m59.818s +0.679s 17 6. Oliver Rowland Fortec 1m59.823s +0.684s 17 7. Richie Stanaway Lotus 1m59.850s +0.711s 16 8. Will Stevens Strakka 1m59.878s +0.739s 15 9. Will Buller Arden 1m59.920s +0.781s 17 10. Zoel Amberg AVF 1m59.944s +0.805s 18 11. Matias Laine Strakka 2m00.145s +1.006s 17 12. Jazeman Jaafar ISR 2m00.215s +1.076s 16 13. Roberto Merhi Zeta Corse 2m00.240s +1.101s 15 14. Norman Nato DAMS 2m00.334s +1.195s 17 15. Luca Ghiotto Draco 2m00.669s +1.530s 15 16. Marlon Stockinger Lotus 2m00.692s +1.553s 17 17. Oscar Tunjo Pons Racing 2m00.947s +1.808s 17 18. Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing 2m01.039s +1.900s 18 19. Beitske Visser AVF 2m01.619s +2.480s 18 20. Roman Mavlanov Zeta Corse 2m02.143s +3.004s 18
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