Max Wissel offered a timely reminder to his rivals that FC Basel hasnt yet given up netting this seasons Superleague Formula by Sonangol title after recording the fastest aggregate time over the two free practice sessions at Monza, Italy today.
The 19 year-old, who suffered a frustrating weekend last time out in Estoril where he slipped 59 points behind league leaders Liverpool, posted a best time of 1m37.196s in the dying moments of the days second session to edge out Olympiacos Esteban Guerrieri by just 0.059 seconds after an equally late effort by the Argentine.
It was an excellent days work all round by the young German who ended opening free practice third before proving the most consistent performer of the day.
Home favourite and Monza specialist Giorgio Pantano had earlier stripped long-time pace-setter Nelson Panciatici of the top spot before ending the day third fastest thanks to his 1m37.371s lap, 0.151 seconds clear of Estoril Shootout winner Sevilles Sebastien Bourdais in fourth.
The morning session saw Tristan Gommendy back at the wheel of his FC Porto car after Alvaro Parentes Portuguese cameo – go some 0.739 seconds faster than anyone else when he became the only man to duck below the 1m38s barrier. And although the Frenchman would lower that time to a 37.615 this afternoon, it would ultimately prove only good enough for fifth place.
Championship leader Adrian Valles finished second in the first session but could do no better than 12th in the second after failing to beat his best time of 1m38.734s from the morning. Closest title rival Craig Dolby meanwhile, who sits 58 points adrift of Liverpool in the League, wound up eighth, the Tottenham driver over a second down on Wissels ultimate pace.
Another home team, AS Roma, finished the day ninth quickest thanks to Superleague Formula debutant Julien Jousses 1m38.518s lap, with Antonio Pizzonia and Corinthians completing the top ten, 0.041 seconds further back.
Max Wissel, FC Basel: The day was quite good for us. The first practice we were third and now were in first position. We used new tyres but Im sure about nine or ten others did the same so it looks strong for tomorrow, like the whole year really. Im really happy to be here, its my first time racing at Monza and I enjoyed it a lot. The track is fantastic to drive so Im looking forward to qualifying, hoping for the best.
Esteban Guerrieri, Olympiacos: Today was a bit of a mixed day. At the beginning we had some problems in the last part of first free practice but as everyone was learning the car and circuit it wasnt too bad. In the second session we found some good pace after sorting out the balance with my engineer, so Im pleased.
Giorgio Pantano, AC Milan: We found a good set-up with the car today so were looking in good shape for qualifying tomorrow. At the moment Ive got a good feeling. Well have to see tomorrow when everyone is out there on the same tyres when well know who really is the quickest. We used older tyres which were in good condition so I think thats a good lap time on those. We saw others were using a new set so I think it looks good for tomorrow.