British Formula 3 title favorite Daniel Ricciardo got his first race weekend of the season off to the perfect start by setting the fastest time during official testing today.
The Australian Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen driver lapped the Oulton Park International circuit a full half a second quicker than Nick Tandy's JTR Mygale-Mercedes during three 50 minute sessions.
The fastest times came during the second session, which included Ricciardo's 1m28.166s best lap, which he set on a new-tire run and which put him over a tenth inside reigning champion Jaime Alguersuari's pole position time from last season.
The series rookie was fastest of all in the first two sectors of lap, but pipped to quickest time in the third sector by Tandy.
The first two sessions were dry, while this afternoon's third and final session was rain affected.
Reflecting on his most dominant testing performance in British F3 to date, Formula Renault Eurocup graduate Ricciardo said: "The car feels really good in both wet and dry conditions and we have been very quick in the all the sessions, so that should allow me to sleep a little better tonight.
"It's only practice of course, but if I can drive like I did today for the rest of the weekend then we should be in pretty good shape."
Fortec Dallara-Mercedes driver Riki Christodoulou set the third fastest time overall, just a tenth of a second slower than Tandy, with his best time coming in the opening session.
The Formula Renault UK convert set the three quickest sector times in that first session, but could not hook it all up for a single lap. Had he done so he would have finished second fastest overall, just two tenths behind Ricciardo's best time.
Ricciardo's Carlin teammates Max Chilton, Oliver Oakes and Henry Arundel lapped third, fourth and eighth fastest respectively, sandwiching Raikkonen Robertson pairing Carlos Huertas and Daisuke Nakajima.
Privateer Hywel Lloyd produced his best performance of the pre-season today and set a noteworthy ninth-fastest time in his family-run Dallara-Mugen Honda, only 22 thousandths of a second slower than Arundel's best.
Austrian Walter Grubmuller rounded out the top 10, in a Hitech Dallara-Mercedes running a modified front wing, while frontrunning squad T-Sport endured a difficult day with its Dallara Volkswagens. Adriano Buzaid and Wayne Boyd could only manage 11th and 14th fastest times – 1.421sec and 1.755sec slower than Ricciardo.
Pos Driver Team Car Time
1. Daniel Ricciardo Carlin D/V 1m28.166s
2. Nick Tandy JTR M/M 1m28.682s
3. Riki Christodoulou Fortec D/M 1m28.794s
4. Max Chilton Carlin D/V 1m28.809s
5. Oliver Oakes Carlin D/V 1m28.875s
6. Carlos Huertas Double R D/M 1m28.899s
7. Daisuke Nakajima Double R D/M 1m29.039s
8. Henry Arundel Carlin D/V 1m29.289s
9. Hywel Lloyd CF Racing D/H 1m29.311s
10. Walter Grubmuller Hitech D/M 1m29.351s
11. Adriano Buzaid T-Sport D/V 1m29.587s
12. Victor Garcia Fortec D/M 1m29.885s
13. Daniel McKenzie Fortec D/M 1m29.917s
14. Wayne Boyd T-Sport D/V 1m29.921s
15. Jay Bridger West-Tec M/H 1m30.985s
16. Gabriel Dias T-Sport D/H 1m31.344s
17. Max Snegirev West-Tec D/H 1m31.976s
18. Stephane Richelmi Barazi Epsilon D/M 1m32.014s
19. Victor Correa Litespeed S/H 1m32.586s