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Lotus has come out fighting for the penultimate round of the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Championship by locking out the top two positions in FP1 at Paul Ricard, with Marlon Stockinger leading Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Filipino racer Stockinger hit the front in the closing stages with the first and only lap to dip below 1min 49secs, the youngster leading the way around the French venue by a comfortable three tenths from team-mate Vaxiviere, the local driver getting back up to speed following his WEC sportscar duties last week.

Though an outside bet for the 2014 FR3.5 title with four races remaining, Oliver Rowland headed up the four contenders with the third best time, ahead of occasional GP2 driver Marco Sorensen and William Buller.

Another outsider Pierre Gasly was sixth best, with series leader Carlos Sainz Jr only eighth and Roberto Merhi - who has launched himself into a strong title challenge with victory in three of the last five races - only 11th for Zeta Corse.


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