Rookie Sebastien Saavedra supplanted AFS/Andretti Green Racing team-mate JR Hildebrand at the head of the timesheets in qualifying for the second race of the Firestone Indy Lights weekend in St Petersburg.
The Colombian has shown pace since signing up for the series over the winter and converted second in his qualifying group in first qualifying to a maiden pole position second time around. Saavedra's pole gives AFS/Andretti Green Racing a sweep of the poles for the two season-opening races after Hildebrand topped the group in qualifying for race one. Their positions reversed, Hildebrand will start third in race two.
“It's very exciting, especially considering this is my first Firestone Indy Lights race weekend," Saavedra commented, "I'm very happy - my team did an awesome job, the Firestone tyres were just amazing for the whole session.
“We're a good team and there's good communication with my team-mate. We already have it sorted out, more or less, on how we want the race to go. Obviously, we never know how the pitch is going to come, but we're really positive and have a fast car. The team has done an awesome job with the engineering, so it's just up to us to show what we've got.”
Junior Strous will again start from the front row, after repeating his group-topping run from first qualifying.
“We had a good run, but there were a lot of cautions," the Dutchman reported, "The car was good, and we saved a set of tyres because we didn't put on a new set halfway through the session, so we have a new set for each race, which is good. The car was handling fine, although it was a bit too low – we bottomed out a bit, which made it hard. But I think it's a very good race car - I'm looking forward to racing it this afternoon.”
James Davison qualified fourth for the second consecutive day, and will line-up ahead of Ana Beatriz and Richard Philippe, who make up row three. Philippe's performance was particularly noteworthy after he failed to post a time in first qualifying.
James Hinchcliffe, Jay Howard, Martin Plowman and Mario Romancini complete the top ten, with the Panther Racing driver showing a big improvement over the 19th position he recorded in qualifying one.