Jerez FR3.5: Dillmann beats Rowland to claim maiden pole
Tom Dillmann secured his first Formula Renault 3.5 pole position in Saturday qualifying for the season finale at Jerez.
The Frenchman's effort also marked Carlin's first pole in the category since Kevin Magnussen topped qualifying at Silverstone back in 2012.
Dillmann claimed the top spot in the first half of the session and was able to maintain position as two red flags made it difficult for his rivals to improve afterwards.
Early on, qualifying was interrupted by an Alfonso Celis off with 17 minutes to go, forcing the drivers to end their first runs and change to new rubber earlier than usual.
Without a representative time, champion Oliver Rowland, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Tio Ellinas were among the few rejoining the track once the interruption ended, setting a quick lap before pitting again.
None of them were able to demote early leader Dillmann though, who was the only one beating Egor Orudzhev’s practice benchmark with a time of 1m28.621s - with Rowland falling one tenth shy.
Kicking off their second stint, the drivers left the pitlane with seven minutes left on the clock but drops of rain made it impossible to improve before a second red flag was caused by Dean Stoneman ending up in the gravel on the outside of Curva Aspar.
There was enough time for a quick lap on the restart but most drivers, including Rowland who set a fastest first sector, did not complete their final flyer, allowing Dillmann to clinch his maiden pole position in the series.
Orudzhev, the winner last time out at Le Mans, was among the few exceptions, setting personal best times in all three sectors to grab third behind Rowland, only to be demoted way down the order due to improving under yellows.
As such, Jazeman Jaafar inherited the sport, while Vaxiviere and Ellinas took fourth and fifth, four and five hundredths off the Malaysian's time respectively, with Nyck de Vries taking sixth.
Strakka’s Gustav Malja, Arden’s Nicholas Latifi and AVF’s Beitske Visser and Pons’ rookie Yu Kanamaru completed the top 10, the latter duo managing to improve on their final laps.
Despite sitting as high as third, Stoneman was stripped from his best time after bringing out the red flag, forcing him to take 11th on the grid.
UPDATE: After a successful appeal, Egor Orudzhev's penalty was rescinded and he will retain his third place on the grid.
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