Will Power again defied pain from the double fracture in his left wrist to claim the final pole position of the season with a new lap record at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

With four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais setting a record pace in first qualifying on Friday, it was going to take something special to prise P1 away from the soon-to-depart Frenchman, but Power - and others - bettered Bourdais' time as the track continued to pick up performance in pleasantly warm conditions on Saturday.

The Australian had to wait before claiming the bonus point, however, as Nelson Philippe, Oriol Servia and Paul Tracy set the early pace, the Canadian veteran being the first to dip under Bourdais target time with a lap of 1min 24.608secs. With just under two-thirds of the half-hour session still to run, Tracy's lap proved a portent of things to come, although few bettered his time until the closing moments.

Power and Team Australia team-mate Simon Pagenaud were not hanging about, however, and were the next to reach the top of the pile, the Frenchman taking just less than a tenth from Tracy's time at half-distance, before Power delivered his first threatening time, a 1min 24.224secs effort, just seconds later.

Pagenaud improved next time around, but only edged closer to his team-mate - rather than surpassing him - while Graham Rahal vaulted up into third, only to be swiftly deposed by Robert Doornbos' arrival in second and Servia's return to the top three in third.

Power, however, was not prepared to watch his rivals close in and, with a handful of minutes remaining on the game clock, smashed the 1min 24secs barrier to record a lap of 1min 23.558secs, beating Bourdais' overnight lap record by a massive 1.3secs, confirming the Australian's belief that saving both sets of Bridgestone's 'red' option tyres for day two would be an advantage.

Power had been fifth fastest in morning practice, but remained unhappy with the support his injury was getting in the cockpit. He started the session with a taped hand, but pitted after half an hour to check his wrist. Crew chief Les Channen cut off the thumb tape, but that wasn't good enough for Power, and all the tape was eventually removed for the remainder of the session, leaving the Australian sore and resorting to an ice gel strapping between sessions.

Bourdais again attempted to save his best for last, but a final attempt to reclaim top spot was destined to fail and the Frenchman had to accept that his Friday time would only be good enough for the outside of the front row because of the session in which it was set. In all, the top seven in Q2 all went faster than the Frenchman had managed on Friday, with Bourdais himself only fast enough for tenth in the second session.

Doornbos took a major step towards reclaiming second in the standings from Justin Wilson, making the Englishman rue his final run error on Friday all the more as he moved the Minardi Team USA car onto the inside of row two for Sunday's showdown. Wilson, meanwhile, was fourth fastest in the session and will line up directly behind his Dutch rival on raceday. Between the duelling Europeans, Servia claimed third on the day and will give PKV Racing another decent starting position as he shares row two with Doornbos.

Pagenaud and Tracy were unable to build on their efforts after mid-session, dropping to fifth and seventh respectively, split by Rahal, while Doornbos' team-mate Dan Clarke finally hit on a decent set-up for his Minardi car, jumping into eighth in session, and ninth on the grid, one ahead of Mexican youngster David Martinez, who again impressed in the second Forsythe entry alongside Tracy.

Neel Jani was the final driver to duck under 1min 25secs, with Bruno Junqueira clearly not quite having hit on the right combination for his Dale Coyne Racing DP01 as he made do with twelfth, a tenth ahead of both Philippe and Alex Tagliani. Local favourite Mario Dominguez was next up, unhappy to be starting 15th in his home race, while Katherine Legge's hopes of a top ten start to end the year were dashed as she scrapped to move off the bottom of the timesheets.

Alex Figge brings up the rear on Sunday, having been passed by the British girl in the second and decisive session.


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