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Nirei Fukuzumi tops first day of testing with new GP3 car

by Peter Allen

Photo: Malclom Griffiths/GP3 Series Media Service

Honda protege?Nirei Fukuzumi?set the pace for ART Grand Prix on the first full test day with the new-for-2016 GP3 car at Estoril.

Following the shakedown at Magny-Cours earlier this month where each team had the use of one car, this was the first proper test with the GP3/16.

Campos Racing recruit Steijn Schothorst led the way in the morning session with a 1m29.792s as the only driver below the 1m30s mark.

The best afternoon times were over a second faster than that, with Japanese Formula 3 convert Fukuzumi posting a 1m28.645s as one of four drivers covered by less than a tenth of a second.

As in the morning, Arden’s?Jake Dennis was second fastest, 0.016s behind Fukuzumi. Two more ART drivers,?Alex Albon and?Charles Leclerc, were six and nine hundredths of a second off respectively.

Formula Renault champion Jack Aitken was two tenths back in fifth for Arden, directly followed by his?former?team-mates and rivals?Jake Hughes (DAMS) and?Matt Parry (Koiranen).

Campos’?Alex Palou and DAMS driver?Kevin Jorg were next up?while 10th went to?Oscar Tunjo, who was back in a GP3 car for the first time since his race-winning 2015 campaign?ended last July through a lack of funds.

The Colombian was in action for Jenzer Motorsport alongside the team’s sole signed racer?Akash Nandy.

Ralph?Boschung, who drove?for Jenzer last year and at the recent shakedown, was testing a fourth Koiranen car. The only other teams to take advantage of the new rule permitting fourth cars were ART and Trident, who already have complete quartets confirmed?for the season ahead.

Combined day one times
Pos Driver? Team? Session 1 Session 2?
1 Nirei Fukuzumi ART Grand Prix 1:30.752 1:28.645
2 Jake Dennis Arden International 1:30.191 1:28.661
3 Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1:30.417 1:28.705
4 Charles Leclerc ART Grand Prix 1:49.396 1:28.735
5 Jack Aitken Arden International 1:31.390 1:28.867
6 Jake Hughes DAMS 1:30.765 1:28.905
7 Matthew Parry Koiranen GP 1:30.590 1:28.978
8 Alex Palou Campos Racing 1:30.582 1:29.031
9 Kevin Jorg DAMS 1:31.764 1:29.133
10 Oscar Tunjo Jenzer Motorsport No time 1:29.150
11 Ralph Boschung Koiranen GP 1:31.029 1:29.176
12 Giuliano Alesi Trident 1:31.715 1:29.378
13 Artur Janosz Trident 1:31.626 1:29.624
14 Tatiana Calderon Arden International 1:32.499 1:29.646
15 Konstantin Tereshchenko Campos Racing 1:31.202 1:29.763
16 Santino Ferrucci DAMS 1:30.546 1:29.777
17 Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 1:31.310 1:30.143
18 Akash Nandy Jenzer Motorsport 1:31.920 1:30.266
19 Steijn Schothorst Campos Racing 1:29.792 1:31.060
20 Matevos Isaakyan Koiranen GP No time 1:31.548
21 Mahaveer Raghunathan Koiranen GP 1:32.576 1:31.694
22 Sandy Stuvik Trident 1:40.830 1:38.694
23 Antonio Fuoco Trident 1:46.396 1:40.681