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Oliver Rowland stormed to race two pole in a competitive qualifying session at the seventh round of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship from Germany's Nurburgring.

The championship leader sealed the deal with an unbeatable 1:40.637 in the latter stages to go fastest. This lap marks his fifth pole of the season and seventh overall for the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver. A win tomorrow would equal 2014 champion Carlos Sainz's record for most wins in a season with seven.

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His Fortec Motorsports model faced a tough challenge from a fast-finishing Pietro Fantin, surpassing the International Draco Racing driver's last effort by two tenths-of-a-second. Just seven hundredths of a second separated Fantin and third placed qualifier Roy Nissany who showed a return to form for Tech 1 Racing for the first time since his surprise podium at the Red Bull Ring.

A change of tyres with eight minutes remaining on the clock saw Tom Dillmann improve for a narrow fourth place in the Carlin, still just three tenths behind the leader, with the Strakka Racing pairing of Silverstone race winner Tio Ellinas and podium finisher Gustav Malja fifth and sixth respectively. Dean Stoneman was seventh but it will be damage limitation for title contender Matthieu Vaxiviere who starts down on his best in eighth. The Frenchman will face tough opposition from two rookies, race one podium finisher Nyck de Vries and Tech 1 Racing's Aurelien Panis. The top ten were separated by only a second in one the season's most competitive qualifying sessions.

Meanwhile, Jazeman Jaafar will be disappointed with 11th after a confident performance saw him finish third in the second Fortec challenger yesterday. Just five points now separate Jaafar and his rookie rival Nyck de Vries for third place in the driver standings.