Montanari does it again!
After taking the pole position and the win here last year, Christian Montanari (Prema Power Team) has once again proved to be fastest on the streets of Monaco. The man from San Marino took pole position at the end of a session with its fair share of incidents. He will be joined on the front row by the Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA).
On only his second flying lap, Enrico Toccacelo (Eurointernational) was involved in a collision at the Casino. Seconds later, Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) crashed out violently at the Swimming Pool. By the midpoint in the session, Christian Montanari was already quickest, but he was still more than a second off the fastest time in free practice. Ben Hanley (Cram Competition) was the next to make a mistake when he was involved in a coming-together at Sainte Devote, losing his rear wing in the process.
With 15 minutes gone, Montanari was still leading with a lap in 1'26''876. Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport) was experiencing engine problems and pulled up at Portier. While trying to hold onto second, James Rossiter (Pons Racing) span at the Rascasse hairpin. Alessandro Bonetti (Jenzer Motorsport) then followed suit, while Mikhail Aleshin ran off at Massenet!
With only five minutes left, Montanari remained quickest ahead of Rossiter, Van Lagen (Comtec) and Pilet (GD Racing). The leader kept on trying to improve on his own time finishing with a lap in 1'25''397, faster than his 2005 pole time. Jaap Van Lagen also went quicker right at the chequered flag to snatch second from Rossiter. Patrick Pilet was able to hold onto fourth ahead of Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering).
Matteo Meneghello (GD Racing) was the first to get it wrong at Massenet. With 10 minutes gone, Eric Salignon (Interwetten.com) crashed out at the Swimming Pool. With his car left obstructing the track, the session had to be brought to a halt. The Championship leader was unable to continue the session: "I'm really annoyed with myself. I shouldn't be making that kind of mistake on only my second lap".
When the session resumed, Ryo Fukuda (Tech 1 Racing) was the next to crash out at Massenet. As a result, the red flag had to be brought out a second time, just after Colin Fleming (Carlin Motorsport) set the fastest time. Qualifying then resumed for another six minutes.
Andy Soucek (Interwetten.com) then Celso Miguez (Pons Racing) took it in turns to go quickest. Despite making a series of mistakes, Pastor Maldonado also remained in the running for the fastest time. Sean McIntosh (KTR) then added his name to the list of drivers to fall foul of Massenet while Greg Franchi (Prema Power Team) put in a superb third fastest lap. Maldonado was lucky to benefit from ideal qualifying conditions on his final lap enabling him to go faster than Miguez, without beating Montanari's time. Fleming finished fourth ahead of Hayanari Shimoda (Victory Engineering).
With room for only 26 cars on the grid, four cars had to be eliminated: Toccacelo, Bennani (Eurointernational), Valsecchi and Garcia were the unlucky ones. Starting from the last row of the grid, Salignon is going to have trouble making it into the points.
Christian Montanari: "We've kept our momentum from Zolder. The team has worked very well and I've got a good feeling that I can repeat my victory here last year. I'm not taking anything for granted but so far things couldn't be better."
Pastor Maldonado: "I made a few minor errors but fortunately I got away with it as there was plenty of oil on the track. My last lap was perfect with a totally clear track. I'm in a perfect position for the race tomorrow, so we'll have to see how it goes from the start."