New Renault Formula 1 team protege Jarno Opmeer set the pace on the first day of Formula Renault Eurocup testing at Magny-Cours.
Last year’s SMP Formula 4 graduate, driving for the MP Motorsport team that has returned to the category after a year away, posted the day’s best of 1m35.934s inside the final half-hour.
He and Red Bull-backed team-mate Richard Verschoor in fourth were only separated by 0.046 seconds, with second-year Formula Renault racers Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP) and Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) taking second and third, 19 and 23 thousandths slower than Opmeer respectively.
Gabriel Aubry was the lead Tech 1 driver in fifth in front of AVF’s Henrique Chaves, Yifei Ye at JKR and Fortec duo Alex Peroni and Alexey Korneev.
New Red Bull recruit Neil Verhagen completed the top 10 in the third and final MP entry, in front of British F4 champion Max Fewtrell, V de V graduate Gregoire Saucy and returning frontrunner Max Defourny.
The championships remaining Red Bull Junior Dan Ticktum topped the morning session for category newcomer Arden before finishing 27th out of 30 in the afternoon after stopping on track early on.
Fifteen drivers bettered the Briton’s morning benchmark time of 1m36.702s.
He was followed in the first session by fellow rookie Ye, Shwartzman, Peroni, Verhagen and Fenestraz.