Reigning champions Tech 1 finally showed that someone other than Giedo van der Garde could be a pacesetter at the opening round of the World Series by Renault at Monza, helping Julien Jousse to edge ahead of the Dutchman in the build-up to qualifying.
On a busy track, the driver order changed with every lap completed on worn tyres, as van der Garde and Bertrand Baguette set the initial pace, quickly followed by Guillaume Moreau, Mikhail Aleshin and Fabio Carbone.
Robert Wickens then raised the tempo, the Canadian driver setting a new fastest time at 1min 36.308secs to move ahead of van der Garde, Aleshin, Salvador Duran and Carbone as many drivers stopped off at the pits for new tyres.
With the entire field eventually making the switch, the last quarter of an hour proved to be a decisive period, and Jousse was the first to make an impression, dipping under the 1min 36secs mark. The Frenchman's 1min 35.826secs effort was the fastest time of the weekend so far, and good enough to move ahead of van der Garde, who improved to 1min 35.975secs shortly after.
The action was interrupted temporarily when Alvaro Barba crashed and the red flag was brought out nine minutes before the scheduled close, but resumed for a frantic three-minute blast. With so little time available, however, there were no further changes in the standings, leaving Jousse to head to qualifying as the fastest man.
"I'm happy with my time from this morning, which was quicker than I managed last year, and proves that we've found a good set-up," he said, wary of the circumstances in which he had come out on top, "Getting the best time this morning doesn't mean a lot, as the red flag spoiled everyone's momentum - and I think that the track will be slower for qualifying."
Second-placed van der Garde also broke the 1min 36secs barrier, but revealed that he had not been entirely happy with his car.
"We tried a slightly different set-up this morning, which didn't really suit me," he admitted, "For qualifying, we're going to go back to the set-up we used yesterday."
Jousse and van der Garde will also need to be wary of Wickens, who clocked the quickest time on used tyres.
"Our car definitely performs very well on used tyres," the Canadian said, "That bodes well for the race, but it's hard to tell how it handles on new tyres, as I had to come off when the red flag came out. But I remain confident about qualifying."
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