FR3.5 » 1 January 1901
Duran on pole as Parente edges closer.
Salvador Duran has taken his first World Series by Renault pole position after securing the fastest time at a damp Circuit de Catalunya for the final round of the season.
Earning four points for his troubles – his first since the Donington Park round of the championship -, the pole position makes up for the last time Duran was supposed to start from the top spot, that being at Monaco when he had his fastest time cancelled for inducing a red flag.
There was no mistake this time though with the Mexican driver making the most of running in slightly better conditions as part of the second group, thus denying pole position for champion-elect Alvaro Parente.
The Portuguese driver was a clear eight tenths quicker than anyone else in his group, but his time of 1min 53.734secs was not enough to resist the best lap for Duran later on in the morning.
Nonetheless, Parente also gains four crucial points to put himself in with a very good chance of securing the title in the first race of the weekend later today, particularly as his closest rival Ben Hanley will start well down in 15th place.
Having won his maiden World Series race last time out at Estoril, Miguel Molina has put himself in a good position to repeat that feat on home ground by securing third place on the grid, the Spaniard sharing the second row with Milos Pavlovic, the Serb also heading into the weekend with a slim chance of title glory but more likely to be chasing the runner-up spot instead.
Carlin drivers make up the third row, with Mikhail Aleshin fifth and, more impressively, Robert Wickens sixth on only his second World Series by Renault outing having scored on his debut at Estoril.
Giedo van der Garde continued his consistent top ten form with seventh on the grid, although he will have been frustrated to see his hopes of pole position ruined by impressive last lap runs for Duran, Molina and Aleshin.
Alvaro Barba will start alongside him in eighth, while row five is made up of KTR pairing Guillaume Moreau and Bertrand Baguette.
With Parente scoring those points for topping his group and Hanley starting well outside the top ten, 26 points now separate the duo, with only a maximum of 31 up for grabs over the remainder of the weekend. As such, the Portuguese driver needs to finish just fifth in the first race alone to guarantee that the title goes his way.
Elsewhere, Pippa Mann will start a solid 19th with fellow Brit James Walker starting down in 23rd, while series returnees Giorgio Mondini and Alberto Valerio are 26th and 27th on the grid respectively.
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