Renault WS » 01 October 2006
WS: Pole for Gommendy at rainy Le Mans.
Rain returned to throw a curve ball for the World Series by Renault drivers in qualifying for the second race of the weekend at Le Mans, although this time all five title competitors will feature in the top eight of the grid setting up a tantalising tussle with only three races of the championship remaining.
Still, while all eyes were on the battle unfolding between Andy Soucek, Alx Danielsson, Borja Garcia, Pastor Maldonado and Alvaro Parente, it was in fact Tristan Gommendy who went one better from first race qualifying to claim pole position on his home circuit.
Having claimed a front row starting position on his return to the series for the opening race, Gommendy secured Pons Racing's first pole position of the season, making the most of the better conditions in the first of two groups to prove the dominant pace setter.
Alongside him will be the leading championship contender Maldonado, with Garcia in third, while Danielsson will start in fourth place, as he bids to convert his triple victory into a quadruple around the Bugatti configuration
of the legendary circuit.
With rain falling already and the conditions rapidly worsening, nearly all of the drivers took the opportunity to pile onto the circuit in the opening minutes to find some kind of advantage, even if the tricky track did not take long to bite back, with both Gommendy and Alvaro Barba among the early spinners.
At the halfway point, Garcia and Gommendy were establishing themselves as the duo to beat, the former enjoying himself more in the wet than he was in the
dry when he could only manage eleventh in the first race.
However, local knowledge soon saw Gommendy surge to the front, usurping Garciaâ€™s best time by seven-thousandths of a second, before demolishing his rival by slashing another second off on the next revolution. Garcia hit back to move within three tenths, only for Gommendy to move pole out of reach with a time that would end the session some eight tenths quicker than the nearest competition.
A gap of over two seconds back saw Alvaro Parente take a crucial third fastest time, marginally ahead of first race point scorer Celso Miguez, while Barba's fourth fastest time sees Jenzer Motorsport start inside the top ten for only the third time this season. Eric Salignon was fifth fastest to guarantee himself a top ten slot.
Rather more treacherous conditions greeted those of the second group, almost guaranteeing Gommendy's place at the front of the grid, as the drivers circulated the circuit in times over two seconds off the ultimate pace showing
in Group A.
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