Kevin Ceccon showed he’ll be a contender should he return to the GP3 Series next season after topping the timesheets on the opening day of the first post-season test at Jerez.

Driving for MW Arden, who took Mitch Evans to the 2012 drivers’ title, the Italian ace ended up nearly half a second clear in the morning session. Robert Visoiu was second fastest following his switch to Lotus GP, while Tio Ellinas and David Fumanelli completed the top four after sticking with the Marussia Manor Racing and Arden squads respectively.

The third Arden machine finished the morning fifth on the leaderboard with top newcomer Melville McKee behind the wheel. Alex Fontana was sixth for Jenzer Motorsport, ahead of Status Grand Prix debutant Nick Cassidy and Formula Abarth champion Nicolas Costa with Marussia. Miki Weckstrom was ninth for Status with Roman de Beer rounding out the top ten for Trident Racing.

Giovanni Venturini was 11th for Lotus ahead of Carlin duo Eric Lichtenstein and Josh Webster with Jack Harvey finishing his first session in a GP3 car in 14th – admitting to a slight off that damaged the floor of his Lotus car. Miki Monras was 15th on his GP3 return with Atech CRS GP ahead of Marussia’s Porsche Supercup convert Patryk Szczerbinski and the second Trident machine of Emanuele Zonzini. Jordan Oon was 18th for Atech with Samin Gomez (Jenzer) and Ryan Cullen (Status) rounding out the 20 runners.

Heavy rain produced a wet session for the afternoon, when Ellinas posted the fastest time – a 1m47.520s compared to Ceccon’s morning benchmark of 1m35.451s. Harvey improved to second this time with Ceccon third and Costa a promising fourth. Fontana, Monras and Visoiu were next up ahead of Lichtenstein, de Beer and Szczerbinski.

McKee was 11th ahead of fellow Formula Renault graduates Weckstrom and Webster, followed by Italian trio Fumanelli, Venturini and Zonzini. Antipodean duo Oon and Cassidy were next, with Gomez and Cullen again propping up the timing screens.

The second and final day of the test sees Harvey switch from Lotus to Carlin to replace Lichtenstein, with Vittorio Ghirelli making his GP3 return in his place.