Fairuz Fauzy set the fastest time in practice for round seven of the Formula Renault 3.5 series at Portimao on Friday morning.
The Malaysian's 1m32.166s today was 0.5sec faster than Le Mans pole-winner Jon Lancaster, while Oliver Turvey was third for Carlin Motorsport after being forced to change an engine after Thursday's opening collective test.
Teammate Jaime Alguersuari also opted for a fresh engine today, and the ensuing restricted running left the Formula 1 racer in unfamiliar ground in 23rd. James Walker made it three Brits in the top four.
Championship leader Bertrand Baguette was fifth, ahead of visiting GP2 racers Dani Clos and Alberto Valerio. Although Silverstone GP2 victor Valerio is making his 2009 debut with Comtec, the Brazilian has distant World Series by Renault experience having driven the previous generation Dallara in an eventful one-off outing for Victory Engineering at Barcelona in 2006.
With the GP2 finale and the British Formula 3 Championship's penultimate round to be held at the Algarve circuit, several drivers are seeking to gain circuit knowledge.
Both British Formula 3 winners from Spa-Francorchamps last weekend were out in action at Portimao. T-Sport's Adriano Buzaid took part in collective testing for Interwetten in the seat usually occupied by Adrian Zaugg. But the Brazilian will not compete in either of tomorrow's races, reducing the Austrian outfit to a single car for GP2 man Michael Herck.
British F3 championship leader Daniel Ricciardo had an encouraging debut outing for Tech 1. The Australian Red Bull Junior has also been confirmed with Tech 1 for the series climax at Motorland Aragon in October.
"There's a lot to take in, but it's also quite cool as there is not much pressure," said Ricciardo. "The aim is to get into the top eight in qualifying. I had one day in a World Series car with Carlin last year so it is still quite new to me, but Red Bull has put me in with a championship-winning team so I am confident we can get on top of it."
Ricciardo ended the morning in 10th place, two positions behind team-mate Charles Pic.
In a revised format, both of this weekend's Formula Renault 3.5 races will take place on Saturday as the championship plays support to the Le Mans Series.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Fairuz Fauzy Fortec 1m32.166s
2. Jon Lancaster Comtec 1m32.635s +0.469
3. Oliver Turvey Carlin 1m32.662s +0.496
4. James Walker P1 1m32.754s +0.588
5. Bertrand Baguette Draco 1m32.808s +0.642
6. Dani Clos Epsilon 1m32.819s +0.653
7. Alberto Valerio Comtec 1m32.868s +0.702
8. Charles Pic Tech 1 1m32.891s +0.725
9. Pasquale Di Sabatino RC 1m32.945s +0.779
10. Daniel Ricciardo Tech 1 1m32.960s +0.794
11. Chris van der Drift Epsilon 1m33.080s +0.914
12. Greg Mansell Ultimate 1m33.099s +0.933
13. Sten Pentus Fortec 1m33.126s +0.960
14. Marco Barba Draco 1m33.162s +0.996
15. Filip Salaquarda Prema 1m33.250s +1.084
16. Daniil Move P1 1m33.306s +1.140
17. Guillaume Moreau SG 1m33.396s +1.230
18. Federico Leo Pons 1m33.529s +1.363
19. Marcos Martinez Pons 1m33.832s +1.666
20. Anton Nebylitskiy SG 1m33.904s +1.738
21. Julien Leal Prema 1m34.098s +1.932
22. Adriano Buzaid Interwetten 1m34.133s +1.967
23. Jaime Alguersuari Carlin 1m34.809s +2.643
24. Miguel Molina Ultimate 1m34.846s +2.680
25. Michael Herck Interwetten 1m34.874s +2.708