In what was a reduced field, Dennis Hauger continued his run of form at the top of the testing timesheets. The rookie beat Johnathan Hoggard around the flat 3-mile Snetterton circuit on Wednesday.
Hauger’s pace though will be curtailed by the fact his main rival so far, Kiern Jewiss (and the rest of Double R,) were not present at the event. This left the door open for TRS Arden to own the day, with all four of their drivers finishing within the top six.
Elsewhere, Jack Doohan, Hauger’s Arden and Red Bull Junior teammate put in one of his best performances to date, finishing just over two tenths behind the leader and third overall having narrowly lost out to Hoggard.
Coming into the test, all eyes were on the young Norwegian and with Double R failing to turn up, it was a perfect opportunity to establish himself at the front. Like at Rockingham though it was once again Hoggard who kept him honest. The pair traded blows and although Hoggard lost out in the morning, ended the afternoon session on top despite completing almost half the amount of laps.
Talking of laps completed, this excessive running appears to have helped Doohan. The Australian had finished fourth in the morning having completed 59 laps, more than anyone else. While he did not quite equal that number in the afternoon, he ended the day with more track time than his rivals and surely an in-depth knowledge of the car he can now build on before the opening round.
Doohan, who had the support of dad Jack, the multiple Motocycle World Champion and fellow countryman Mark Webber at the media day, appears to have taken on their advice, as he closes in on the front-runners.
He may have benefitted from his rivals not showing their full pace though, with teammate Seb Priaulx finishing sixth, while Hampus Ericsson failed to drop below the 1min 53sec mark all day.
Priaulx had been an early championship favourite but recent pace, but along with yesterday’s results, which saw him slowest of the Arden team, a place behind Patrik Pasma, who had been as high as third in the morning, Priaulx will need to stop the rot before the final test at Brands.
Breaking up this Arden pack was Ayrton Simmons. After a quiet winter, Simmons has finally found his feet at an unexpected hunting ground. He finished fourth with JHR Development yesterday, having been second and sixth on his two previous outings with the team. With half a month before the start of the season, he may yet be an outside contender for the title.
His teammate Manuel Sulaiman was seventh overall, highest placed driver not to break the 1min 53sec barrier and once again failing to keep pace with his more experienced driving partner.
Ericsson ended a disappointing day eighth ahead of fellow Fortec Motorsport driver Lucca Allen. The Irishman has failed to make an impact this season and may be left fighting for the top ten once again.
Rounding out the field was Jamie Sharp. From the promise of the opening test at Brands Hatch, Sharp Motorsport has struggled, with limited running at Donington and Rockingham. They seemed finally back on track at Snetterton completing 48 laps in the afternoon, more than any driver, though remained almost three seconds off the pace.
What surprised many though was the lack of drivers present on Wednesday. Only 10 saw the light of day, with not just all three Double R cars absent, but also Josh Skelton after an appearance with JHR in Rockingham. The final test at Brands on the 30th March next week will be a true indicator of how many are willing to commit to a year in British F4.