Imola day 1: Wirdheim leads the way

The Formula 3000 season kicked off with the first official test of the year at Imola today (Thursday), with Arden International's Bjorn Wirdheim setting the pace

Imola day 1: Wirdheim leads the way

Wirdheim was quickest with a lap of 1m36.020s, ahead of Red Bull Junior Team's Patrick Friesacher and Ricardo Sperafico, the latter driving for Coloni Motorsport. Fifteen drivers took part in the test.

"It was a great start to the new season as all 10 teams were here, so it looks like we're in for a good year," said Arden boss Christian Horner.

The Den Bla Avis squad tried out new exhaust system on Nicolas Kiesa's car, which gave it more of a V10 sound. The exhaust could be adopted for this year's series.

Arden's second driver Townsend Bell was seventh quickest on his first run at the San Marino Grand Prix circuit, moving Horner to comment: "I was massively impressed, he exceeded my expectations. He enjoyed the car and said it was not so far removed from the Champ Car. It's not a massive step down."

Belgian outfit Astromega, which has suggested it could pull-out of the series as it has not yet found a sufficiently financed second driver, was present at the test with Tony Schmidt. He was 14th fastest, however.

New outfit Brand Motorsport appeared in the afternoon session, with both Gary Paffett and series returnee Nicolas Minassian taking to the track.


1 Bjorn Wirdheim Arden 1m36.020s 69
2 Patrick Friesacher Red Bull 1m36.467s 41
3 Ricardo Sperafico Coloni 1m36.742s 55
4 Enrico Toccacelo Super Nova 1m37.007s 68
5 Vitantonio Liuzzi Red Bull 1m37.145s 39
6 Jaime Melo Durango 1m37.609s 68
7 Townsend Bell Arden 1m37.764s 62
8 Nicolas Kiesa Den Bla Avis 1m37.976s 39
9 Raffaele Gianmaria Durango 1m38.411s 39
10 Jaroslav Janis PSM-ISR Charouz 1m38.413s 38
11 Yannick Schroeder PSM-ISR Charouz 1m38.444s 62
12 Rodrigo Sperafico BCN 1m38.528s 55
13 Nicolas Minassian Brand 1m38.599s 17
14 Tony Schmidt Astromega 1m38.841s 60
15 Gary Paffett Brand 1m42.864s 10

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