He may be the early-season leader of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and he may already have taken three wins in 2009, but prior to arriving at the Hungaroring this weekend Pons Racing star Marcos Martinez had yet to taste the satisfaction of being on pole position – he has now.
Around the demanding circuit close to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, the Spanish driver succeeded in putting together a perfect lap to grab the best time in the SuperPole qualifying session, ahead of Ultimate Motorsport rival Miguel Molina and James Walker for P1 Motorsport.
Group B drivers were first on-track on Saturday morning, with perfect weather conditions of fine weather, and cool temperatures. Fairuz Fauzy (Mofaz Fortec Motorsport) and Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) set the initial pace, before the times became markedly quicker towards the end of the session and the established order was upset.
Jaime Alguersuari produced the best provisional time, before Tech 1 Racing adversary and Red Bull Formula 1 tester Brendon Hartley reduced the time to beat by almost four tenths of a second, ahead of Alguersuari and Fauzy. Bertrand Baguette, Adrian Zaugg (Interwetten) and Oliver Turvey also made it through to SuperPole in fourth-to-sixth respectively.
By contrast, barely had the Group A cars taken to the track than the red flags were flying, with Mihai Marinescu (RC Motorport) stranded on the tarmac. At the re-start, James Walker went to the top of the timing screens before Martinez set off a wave of fastest laps. The Spaniard took debutant Jon Lancaster (Comtec Racing) and Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) along with him, with Miguel Molina similarly joining the lead group at the end of the session, energetically dicing for the top spot with Walker and Martinez.
Martinez, however, would have the last word, followed by Walker and Molina. In fourth, Lancaster succeeded in qualifying for SuperPole in his maiden qualifying session in the category, with Pic and Marco Barba (International Draco Racing) also both making it through.
Walker was the first man on the pace in SuperPole, but the Briton soon found himself relieved of his position atop the timing screens by the irresistible Martinez, with Fauzy's in turn leaping to the head of the order as his rivals pitted for fresh rubber. The first to fight back was Zaugg, before Baguette, Pic and Walker all fancying a piece of the action as the clock ticked down. A supreme effort from Martinez finally got the job done, however, as the 23-year-old saw off Molina, Walker and Pic for his breakthrough World Series pole position.
“It's my first pole position, and it's a very special feeling,” he acknowledged. “After winning some races, I really had to get this pole. Since the beginning of the weekend, we've had a very good car and we've done a lot of good work with the Pons Racing team – but the race is going to be very tight, because Molina and Walker are close.”
“I made a slight mistake in my fastest lap and that cost me the front row and maybe pole position,” rued Walker. “We've been very close since the start of this morning, Marcos Martinez, Miguel Molina and myself. The race is going to be interesting...”
To see the qualifying times in full, click here