Narain Karthikeyan had a good day's qualifying at Valencia today (Saturday), taking a pole position and a second position for RC Motorsport. The Indian driver had the extra motivation of his countryman Karun Chandhok joining the team for the first time, and rose to his best form in Spain.
"The car wasn't perfect by a long way," said Karthikeyan. "There was a lot of understeer, but I have proved a point," said the former British Formula 3 star, who is no longer in contention for the title.
Tiago Monteiro (Carlin Motorsport) earned pole for tomorrow's second race. The Portuguese driver needs a couple of wins to stop Heikki Kovalainen sealing the title here, and start the first race in third. He thought he would have been on the front row for that one too, had not red and yellow flags gone against him.
But Kovalainen had the real flag-related disaster. After coming out very late in the first session following more steering problems, he almost inevitably set his best time while a yellow flag was on show. The stewards gave the Finnish Pons Racing driver a stiff penalty -- exclusion from the session. He'll start the sprint race from the back as a result, so is unlikely to take the championship in that one. But he rescued his day with third in session two, although he still felt that the car "wasn't working at all."
Milos Pavlovic, who has stepped up to the World Series after winning the World Series Lights championship, deserves a mention. The Yugoslav driver has stayed with the same Vergani Formula team and achieved a seventh and a ninth in his first outing with the big cars.
Unusually, the first race in the World Series Lights took place on Saturday, due to the busy schedule this weekend. The event was red-flagged after a first-corner crash invovling Matteo Pellegrino and Simon Abadie. That was good news for Meycom driver Celso Miguez, who had made a terrible start. Miguez had no problem beating Mathieu Lahaye and Harald Primat when the race finally took place. Abadie will hope for a better day tomorrow, when he starts the last-ever World Series Lights race from pole.
The locally-based Escuela Lois Circuit team had an even better day today, claiming the top three spots on the grid for both of tomorrow's Spanish Formula Junior races. The order in both sessions was the same: "Marco Barba, Arturo Llobell and Manuel Saez Merino.
<pre> World Series by Nissan Race 1 grid 1. Narain Karthikeyan (RC Motorsport) 1'23.118 2. Jean C Ravier (Epsilon Euskadi) 1'23.365 3. Tiago Monteiro (Carlin Motorsport) 1'23.616 4. Felix Porteiro (Epsilon Euskadi) 1'23.730 5. Enrique Bernoldi (GD Racing) 1'23.792 6. Didier Andre (KTR) 1'23.879 7. Milos Pavlovic (Vergani Formula) 1'24.044 8. Olivier Pla (Carlin Motorsport) 1'24.197 9. Juan Crux Alvarez (Gabord Reyco) 1'24.271 10. Adrian Vallès (Pons Racing) 1'24.311
World Series by Nissan Race 2 grid 1. Tiago Monteiro (Carlin Motorsport) 1'23.262 2. Narain Karthikeyan (RC Motorsport) 1'23.391 3. Heikki Kovalainen (Pons Racing) 1'23.452 4. Didier Andre (KTR) 1'23.624 5. Jean C Ravier (Epsilon Euskadi) 1'23.756 6. Adrian Vallès (Pons Racing) 1'24.811 7. Enrique Bernoldi (GD Racing) 1'23.894 8. Felix Porteiro (Epsilon Euskadi) 1'24.067 9. Milos Pavlovic (Vergani Formula) 1'24.163 10. Karun Chanhock (RC Motorsport) 1'24.423
World Series Light Race 1 1. Celso Miguez (Meycom Sport) 25'21.934 2. Mathieu Layahe (Saulnier Racing) +9.475 3. Harold Primat (Saulnier Racing) +11.657
World Series Light Race 2 grid 1. Simon Abadie (Epsilon Sport) 1'27.812 2. Celso Miguez (Meycom Sport) 1'27.316 3. Matteo Pellegrino (Vergani Formula) 1'27.722 4. Mathieu Layahe (Saulnier Racing) 1'28.069 5. Harold Primat (Saulnier Racing) 1'28.768