Fast Franck in pole position to take championship
A win this weekend will be enough for Franck Montagny to win the Superfund World Series by Nissan championship and the Frenchman is perfectly placed to get the result he needs after qualifying on pole position for race one at Barcelona.
The Gabord Competicion driver was made to work hard for the top slot and had to use two sets of new tyres as he came under intense pressure from Tata Team Carlin's Narain Karthikeyan. The tactic worked and Montagny picked up two bonus points for taking pole by just 0.048s.
Montagny said: "We needed to start from pole to stand the best chance of winning. Also it was starting to rain."
Alas for the would-be champion, it did not continue to rain, and with no new tyres available for the second session he was at a massive disadvantage. In spite of his best efforts, he could do no better than eighth. Karthikeyan was again second, much to his disappointment.
He said: "I had some understeer in the second qualifying and I made a mistake on my best lap. I really want to leave Barcelona with a win."
After taking third on the grid for race one, Epsilon Eusakdi's Ander Vilarino took full advantage of Montagny's lack of tyres and Karthikeyan's mistake to grab his first pole position of the season. Following his podium finish last time out in Austria, the Spaniard is hitting form in the final third of the season.
He said: "If somebody believed that Austria was just an inspirational day, they were wrong. We have a new engineer and we are making good progress. I'm very happy to be in the fight for the podium in both races."
Another driver who has made great progress with a new engineer is former Arrows Formula 1 driver, Enrique Bernoldi. The Brazilian was fifth quickest in the first session, but despite spinning off in the second, he took third on the grid.
"It's good for me and the team," he said. "We were at the back of the pack in Monza and now we are in the fight at the front."
Less than one second covered the top 10 in the second session and with the threat of rain still hanging in the air, it is impossible to predict the outcome of either of tomorrow's race, but it is safe to say Montagny will be going all out for the win that guarantees him the title.
World Series Lights
In form Frenchman Julien Vidot showed that he will be the man to watch in Sunday's World Series Lights races by taking a pole position and setting the second best time in the two qualifying sessions. The Epsilon by Graff driver was comfortably quickest in the opening session, out-pacing Celso Miguez (Meycom Reyco) by almost 0.2s.
Vidot looked set to make it a double pole, but a late improvement by Miquez's team-mate Juan Cruz Alvarez handed the Argentinean the top spot by just 0.029s. Miguez meanwhile will start from fifth.
Championship leader Adrian Valles was third fastest in the opening session for Escuela Lois Circuit and fourth best in the second. Yugoslav Milos Pavolvic grabbed third on the grid for race two to make it an Epsilon two- three.
Mathias Lauda had a tough day suffering with oversteer. He will start back in seventh for race one and eighth in race two. His Chilean team-mate Pablo Donoso lines up fourth and sixth.
The first driver to spray the champagne this weekend was Spaniard Juan del Pino (G-TEC) who dominated the 11-lap Formula Junior race. From pole position the championship leader made the perfect start and a series of blistering laps in the opening part of the race built up a sizeable lead that he could hold to the end.
He said: "I'm very happy with this victory. My strategy was to start very strong and push to get a gap from the others. I had to slow down a lot in the last lap to save my tyres. This a very good result and I now have a nice lead in the championship. I have to thank the team for giving me a great car."
Romain Iannetta (G-TEC) shot off the line to slot into second on the long run into the fourth corner and he doggedly defended that position for four laps. However, coming onto the start/finish straight for the fifth time Carlos Gonzalez (Cracs) was right in his slipstream and he dived into second place under braking for Turn 1.
Gonzalez quickly pulled away from Iannetta, who dropped back to sixth as he pushed too hard to retake his lost position. This promoted Victor Jaouen (Porfesa Competicion) to third - a great result after starting from 11th. Christian Cano (Racc Motorsport) pushed Jaouen hard to take fourth, with Roldan Rodriguez sixth for Porfesa.
Del Pino starts the second race from pole with Gonzalez second and Cano third. But with less than two seconds covering 15 cars, del Pino will have to push hard again if he is to leave Barcelona with a double win.
Superfund World Series by Nissan Qualifying 1
1. Franck Montagny Gabord Competicion 1m32.340s
2. Narain Karthikeyan Tata Team Carlin +0.028
3. Ander Vilarino Epsilon Euskadi +0.459
4. Bruce Jouanny Carlin Motorspor +0.603
5. Enrique Bernoldi GD Racing +0.757s
6. Bas Leinders Racing Engineering +0.769s
7. Heikki Kovalainen Gabord Competicion 0.917s
8. Bruno Besson Saulnier Racing +0.969s
9. Jean Christophe Ravier Epsilon Euskadi +1.085s
10. Felix Porteiro KTR +1.112s
11. Stephane Sarrazin Racing Engineering +1.134s
12. Angel Burgueno Respol Racing for Spain Vergani +1.212s
13. Polo Villaamil RC Motorsport +1.325s
14. Didier Andre Saulnier Racing +1.439s
15. Paul Edwards KTR +1.665s
16. Jose Marie Perez Aicart Adrian Campos Motorsport +2.194s
17. Santiago Porteiro Adrian Campos Motors +2.360s
Superfund World Series by Nissan Qualifying 2
1. Ander Vilarino Epsilon Euskadi 1m33.123s
2. Narain Karthikeyan Tata Team Carlin +0.184s
3. Enrique Bernoldi GD Racing +0.227s
4. Bas Leinders Racing Engineering +0.270s
5. Bruce Jouanny Carlin Motorsport +0.278s
6. Jean Christophe Ravier Epsilon Euskadi +0.332s
7. Stephane Sarrazin Racing Engineering +0.376s
8. Franck Montagny Gabord Competicion +0.528s
9. Bruno Besson Saulnier Racing +0.788s
10. Felix Porteiro KTR +0.823s
11. Didier Andre Saulnier Racing +1.043s
12. Polo Villaamil RC Motorsport +1.097s
13. Paul Edwards KTR +1.221s
14. Angel Burgueno Respol Racing for Spain Vergani +1.549s
15. Heikki Kovalainen Gabord Competicion +1.859s
16. Jose Marie Perez Aicart Adrian Campos Motorsport +2.041s
17. Santiago Porteiro Adrian Campos Motorsport +3.753s
World Series Live Qualifying 2
Juan Cruz Alvarez 1'35.518
Julien Vidot 0.029
Milos Pavlovic 0.110
Adrian Vallès 0.311
Celso Miguez 0.506
Pablo Donoso 1.054
Ananda Mikola 1.382
Mathias Lauda 1.461
Mteo Pellegrino 1.619
Fomula Junior Spanish Championship
Juan Antonio DEL PINO 1'53.263
Carlos Gozalez 0.321
Cristian Cano 0.559
Carlos Alvarez 0.619
Giacomo Ricci 0.638
Michael Herck 0.797
Victor Jaouen 0.811
Roldan Rodríguez 0.820
Romain Ianneta 1.220
Keisuke Ebisuda 1.516