Maldonado Tops First Testings at Jerez

The first day of testing at Jerez was all about ART Grand Prix. The team's new lineup – newcomer Pastor Maldonado and rookie Nico Hulkenberg – topped the timing sheets on Wednesday, the only GP2 drivers able to keep the pace with the pair being Durango's Davide Valsecchi.

The first session of the day saw the Italian take a well-deserved 1st place with his 1:24.823 time, followed by the two ART Grand Prix drivers Hulkenberg and Maldonado. The Venezuelan - 5th overall in the drivers classification last year – scored a time only 0.080 seconds slower than Valsecchi, while Hulkenberg finished the morning some 0.202 seconds in the back.

In the afternoon session, Maldonado topped the sheets with the best time of the day – 1:24.727 – followed by Piquet Sports' rookie Koudai Tsukakoshi almost three hundreds of a second slower. Third overall was DAMS' Kamui Kobayashi – also test driver for Toyota this season – while Hulkenberg came in 4th at the end of the afternoon (0.160 seconds slower than in the morning session).

The Jerez testings revealed some new names that could step into the main GP2 Series next season (or at least the GP2 Asia): Koudai Tsukakoshi (Piquet), Charles Pic (iSport International), James Jakes (Super Nova), Davide Rigon (Campos), Edoardo Mortara & Chris van der Drift (Trident), Christian Ebbesvik & Luiz Razia (Arden), Carlo van Dam (FMS International) and Sten Pentus (David Price Racing).

Another testing session will get under way at the Catalan circuit on Thursday. Most of the drivers will be switching teams for the upcoming session. Luca Filippi is expected to trade his Super Nova seat with a drive for Racing Engineering, while joined by Vitaly Petrov.

The Jerez testing didn't include newly-crowned GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano and former iSport International Bruno Senna. The two are expected to leave the series before the new season, with the Italian likely to return to the North American open-wheel series and Senna one step away from making his F1 debut with Honda.
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