As predicted, lap-times during free practice at Portimao saw a marked improvement. MOFAZFortec Motorsport’s Fairuz Fauzy set the best time ahead of Comtec Racing’s Jon Lancaster and Carlin Motorsport’s Oliver Turvey. With fifteen cars within a second of each other, qualifying looks set to be wide open.

The weather was hot at Portimao and it looks like it will remain the same throughout the weekend. Prior to the qualifying session programmed for the end of the day, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers took part in a one-hour free practice session. There were no preliminaries this Friday morning, as from the word go International Draco Racing’s Bertrand Baguette positioned himself at the top of the time-sheet with a lap time close to that set by P1 Motorsport’s James Walker the previous day.

But it was Epsilon Euskadi’s Dani Clos who was the first to beat Walker’s time. With a lap of 1’34”171, the Spaniard took the lead over the rest of the pack. P1 Motorsport’s Daniil Move did almost as well, taking second place just two hundredths behind the leader. But Baguette was on form this morning and, with a time of 1’34”089, regained his lead.
The mid-session saw a second wave of improvements. Clos was the first of the drivers to lap in less than 1’34. Credited with a time of 1’33″736 he led, for the time being at least, Oliver Turvey, Fairuz Fauzy, Bertrand Baguette and Daniil Move. Then it was the turn of International Draco Racing’s Marco Barba to shine, leading the charge with a time of 1’33’337. Fairuz however raised the stakes by climbing to second-place ahead of Clos, Sten Pentus and Comtec Racing’s Alberto Valerio.
In the closing minutes, new tyres went on allowing KMP Group/SG Formula’s Guillaume Moreau to set the second fastest lap. In time, he was relegated to fourth place when RC Motosport’s Pasqual DiSabatino set another fastest lap in 1’33”003 while Prema Powerteam’s Filipe Salaquarda squeezed into third.

Lapping in 1’32”662, Oliver Turvey took his turn to lead the dance, but only briefly as Jon Lancaster bettered his time in 1’32″635. Nevertheless, Fairuz went on a final run of flying laps, recording times of 1’32”600, then 1’32”166, and ultimately had the final say. At the end of the morning, he led the field ahead of Lancaster, Turvey, Walker and Baguette.

Fairuz Fauzy was quoted as saying: “The session went really well. We’ve held the top of the timesheets for a few races now. This championship is very close and with a good weekend we could catch up the three leaders. For my money, this and Spa-Francorchamps are the two finest circuits in Europe. There are rises, descents, blind bends, it’s terrific! We’ve got two races to drive on Saturday in intense heat. It’ll be a good test of our physical endurance.”


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