First pole for Maldonado
Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA) took his first pole position in World Series Formula Renault 3.5 with a perfect lap in the opening session. In the other group, Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport) set the fastest time to take a place on the front row of the grid. The two leaders in the overall standings will be able to go head-to-head this afternoon. But who will come way from Istanbul as the leader?
It was not until 13 minutes into the session that Pastor Maldonado finally put in an excellent lap. The Venezuelan's time of 1'39''916 was very close to the time that gave Soucek pole yesterday!
Ben Hanley (Cram Competition) and Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing) seemed to be having trouble matching the Draco driver's performance, lapping more than 1'40'' off the pace with only four minutes of the first session left to run.
Maldonado then improved again with a lap in 1'39''530: faster than Soucek's time yesterday! Alx Danielsson and Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) also improved their times to squeeze Hanley out into fourth. But they were still more than half a second behind Maldonado, clearly head-and-shoulders better than the rest from the word go today.
At the chequered flag, Patrick Pilet (GD Racing) was able to grab a place on the fifth row. It was a more disappointing result for James Rossiter (Pons Racing) though, who had to make do with eighth position.
While Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) made the running in the early part of the session, it was down to Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport) to take control five minutes from the end. With a lap in 1'39''374, the current leader of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 needed to find a few more tenths to snatch pole away from Maldonado.
Behind Garcia and Aleshin, Alvaro Parente and Hayanari Shimoda (Victory Engineering) forced Andy Soucek back onto the fifth row.
Aleshin then improved to within 14/1000ths of Garcia. But no-one was to go any quicker in the final two minutes and the standings remained unchanged. A disappointing performance for Eric Salignon, who will start from row ten!
Pastor Maldonado: "If I hadn't have crashed out yesterday I'd already be on pole. I have high hopes for the race as the car is very reliable. Obviously we will have to adopt the right pit-stop strategy."
Borja Garcia: "Pastor's time was hard to beat. He is going very well this weekend. My strategy is going to be stick with him throughout the race and then try and use the pit-stops to get past him."
Alx Danielsson: "It's safer to start behind Pastor on the grid than in front of him! I think the car is in good shape for the race, but we are going to try a different strategy."
Mikhail Aleshin: "My neck is very painful this weekend. I just hope to be able to stay with pace during the race."