Russian pips Kazim by 0.014s on final tour, with Tom Gladdis third
Russia’s Sergey Afanasiev ended fastest in the second free practice session in Brno, edging out Kazim Vasiliauskas by just 14 thousandths of a second on his very last tour of the circuit.
The pair ended more than three tenths clear of Tom Gladdis in third, the Briton having held the top spot himself until the final minutes of the session when Vasiliauskas and then Afanasiev made their charge.
In what was an incredibly close session, fourth through to seventh were covered by less than one tenth of a second, while the top eight were separated by just over six tenths.
With the track now almost fully dry, lap times were almost 20 seconds faster than this morning’s wet opener. Dean Stoneman made the most of the early damp conditions to top the timesheets for the opening ten minutes before Philipp Eng responded, becoming the first driver to dip into the 1m47s bracket.
A mid-session break allowed the field to fine tune their set-ups and saw an instant drop in lap times as drivers returned to the track, with first Bailly and then Gladdis jumping Eng. Kazim looked to have sealed top spot after setting personal bests in all three sectors on his tenth lap of the circuit, only to be edged out by a superb last-gasp effort from Afanasiev.
Afanasiev, who took a podium here in Formula Master last year, said: I think it was my best session of the year, an awesome session, and its the first time Ive been fastest so Im excited! Okay today is just a practice and qualifying is tomorrow, and I dont want to predict anything but we will fight for pole I want to go for it!
Gladdis remained in third, but there was still time for Benjamin Bailly to jump Philipp Eng and clinch fourth by just two thousandths of a second. Nicola De Marco, a polesitter here in 2009, and Dean Stoneman both finished within four hundredths of a second of Eng’s time, claiming sixth and seventh respectively.
Ivan Samarin rounded out one of the closest top eights this season, the Russian finishing less than seven tenths off Afanasiev’s ultimate best after impressing particularly in the second sector.
Mihai Marinescu meanwhile pipped Natalia Kowalska by just over six hundredths of a second to clinch ninth, with the Polish racer rounding out the top ten.
Kelvin Snoeks was 11th, as the Dutchman makes his return to F2 having missed Brands Hatch with a broken ankle, while championship leader Jolyon Palmer – who was fastest in opening free practice – could only manage 12th.
Interestingly, the championship’s top three runners – Palmer, Stoneman and Eng – were the only drivers to spin in the early stages, until Plamen Kralev beached his car at the exit of turn five – the session being halted as a result two minutes before the end.