Esteban Guerrieri claimed his second World Series by Renault pole in Barcelona, but not in the conventional manner after on-track incidents caused the familiar SuperPole session to be abandoned with barely a time set.
Rain disrupted the final qualifying session of the season, with Julien Jousse, Robert Wickens and Marco Bonanomi all crashing out, and, with increasingly difficult conditions, the race director took the decision to pull the plug before any of the drivers could set a time. Guerrieri, as a result of his fastest time from the split group sessions earlier in the day, was thus awarded pole by default.
The Circuit de Catalunya was already wet when Group A ventured out, forcing everyone onto rain tyres, but the session got off to an ignominious start as Charles Pic went off on his first lap, bringing out the red flag and ruling himself out of any further participation.
The session restarted with 14 minutes remaining and testing pacesetter Bertrand Baguette moved quickly into first place, ahead of Guerrieri. As both drivers improved, they eventually changed positions, with Guerrieri setting a new benchmark at 1min 53.648secs.
The fight for third place was not yet decided, however, with James Walker finally gaining the upper hand over Bonanomi in the closing moments, while Jousse completed the top five. In sixth place, Sergey Afanasiev crashed out at the end of the session and, according to the rules, lost his best time. However, the Russian still retained sixth place and, with it, a place in SuperPole.
Track conditions remained difficult for the second qualifying group, but Salvador Duran and Miguel Molina immediately took control. Duran, in particular, looked comfortable, setting the pace with a lap time of 1min 53.801secs that proved too good for anyone.
Behind him, the two Prema Powerteam cars, with Molina ahead of Alvaro Barba initially filled second and third spots, but Barba made a made a mistake at the end of the session and, with his best time disqualified, dropped from third to fifth.
Several drivers improved their times as the chequered flag waved, with Mikhail Aleshin assuming Barba's third place, and Fairuz Fauzy, Wickens and Fabio Carbone all then going faster than the Spaniard's new 'best' time to demote him to seventh and out of SuperPole.
As the twelve SuperPole drivers prepared for action, Barcelona was hit by another heavy downpour, and the session was soon interrupted as Jousse and Wickens discovered just how little grip there was on track. Although the session eventually got underway again, the red flag was never far away and, after Bonanomi crashed, the decision was taken to abandon the session, even though no-one had completed a flying lap.
Pole position was therefore handed to Guerrieri, who had been the fastest driver over the two earlier qualifying sessions, while the qualifying points were awarded group by group, with Duran also pocketing four points.
"It proved useful to attack from this morning," Guerrieri admitted later, "I pushed things to the limit and it paid off, so you should always give it your best. The decision to stop the SuperPole was inevitable, and I'm happy to have taken my second pole position this season. Now I'm hoping to take my first victory in the series..."