Champion Grabs Double Pole For Finale
Heikki Kovalainen will start Jerez races from the front of the grid
Jerez de la Frontera, November 6 -- Newly-crowned champion Heikki Kovalainen has grabbed pole position for both races at Jerez tomorrow. The Pons Racing driver led Tiago Monteiro (Carlin Motorsport) in both qualifying sessions at the last-ever meeting of the World Series by Nissan. The championship will become the World Series by Renault next year.
With famous team boss Sito Pons making a rare appearance at a race meeting, Kovalainen is particularly keen to end the year on a high note after earning the title at a rather poor weekend in Valencia last month. The Finn has tested for the Renault Formula 1 team at the Andalucian track, so yesterday's wet practice didn't hinder him too much.
"Qualifying went to plan," said Kovalainen, who sealed the championship at Valencia three weeks ago. "It was quite slippery in the beginning but I did just enough for the pole. We changed the setup for the second session and then it was more comfortable. Valencia was not fantastic and we have tried to come back stronger. So far so good, but there's a long way to go this weekend."
By contrast Monteiro has never been to Jerez and did well considering he had no dry running before qualifying today. It didn't change the familiar 2004 scenario: Monteiro and Kovalainen were in a class of their own again.
"I love this track," said Monteiro of the fast Jerez layout. "It reminds me of a little Spa-Francorchamps! Having never been here I would have been happy with fifth or sixth. So I'm really happy to be on the front row."
The Portuguese driver looks odds-on to secure second in the championship, with his main rival Enrique Bernoldi struggling to tenth and ninth on the grid. Monteiro's team-mate Olivier Pla did well enough with fifth in the first session, but a crash in the second will put him fifteenth on the starting grid for race two.
There were a few other noteworthy showings today. Milos Pavlovic brought some smiles to Vergani at last as he will line up fourth for race two. The Yugoslav only graduated from the secondary World Series Lights category at the last round and did a great job despite spinning out at the end of the session.
Karun Chandhok will also be pleased with eighth and fifth for RC Motorsport. The Indian is also in his second World Series meeting after moving up from British Formula 3. He couldn't quite beat his team-mate and countryman Narain Karthikeyan though. Karthikeyan starts the two races from seventh and third.
Unfortunately we cannot report the thoughts of Karthikeyan and Jean-Cristophe Ravier (who qualified third for race one), because they did not arrive for the regular post-qualifying press conference. Although both contravened article 39 of the regulations by missing this obligations, World Series organiser RPM has decided not to penalise them in order to avoid spoiling the end of the championship.