Duran on pole, Parente marches on
Looking particularly comfortable on a wet track this morning, Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com) has taken his first pole position in World Series Formula Renault 3.5. With the fastest time in the other group, Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing) will line up for the start of race one alongside the Mexican. Having only managed to qualify on row 8, Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam) see his title chances severely diminished.
The first fifteen Formula Renault 3.5s to go into action today took to a mostly damp track. Straight off, Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing) moved to the forefront of proceedings ahead of Milos Pavlovic (Draco Racing) and Bertrand Baguette (KTR).
With eight minutes gone, Pavlovic took control. The Serb kept on pushing, but Parente regained the upper hand at the midpoint in the session with a lap in 1'56''611. For Clivio Piccione (RC Motorsport), the session came to a premature end in the gravel trap.
With seven minutes left, Alvaro Barba (Draco Racing) took third place away from Bertrand Baguette. Perfect through three of the sectors, Parente then really hammered home his advantage by improving on his own fastest time by more than two seconds.
With only three minutes left to go, Pavlovic then came to within 5/10ths of Parente. It went right to the chequered flag, but the Draco driver was simply unable to improve on the excellent time set by the Portuguese driver of 1'53''734. The very last driver to have his time recorded at the line, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) then snatched 3rd place away from Alvaro Barba. Bertrand Baguette completed the top five for this first group.
After three laps, Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com) had set the fastest time of 1'55''290. Several yellow flags for some excursions into the greenery prevented drivers from improving on that time until midway through the session.
With the track clear once again, Duran took full advantage to put in a lap under 1'55''. With 14 minutes gone, Richard Philippe (Fortec Motorsport) took second from Miguel Molina (Pons Racing).
With five minutes to go, Duran put in a final effort and came away with a lap in 1'53''654, enough to beat Parente's fastest time. Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering) and Filipe Albuquerque (Epsilon Euskadi) then took it in turns to move ahead of Richard Philippe.
At the chequered flag, Duran then improved still further to take his first pole position with a lap in 1'53''494. Taking advantage of the clear track on their final lap, Miguel Molina and Mikhail Aleshin then took 2nd and 3rd places away from Giedo van der Garde and Guillaume Moreau (KTR) respectively.