The day began with a collective test session. Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) was the first to improve upon yesterday’s reference time. While he managed to counter the assaults of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Oliver Rowland, the Cypriot couldn’t match the pace of Dean Stoneman (DAMS). With a lap of 1:16.647, the driver from the Red Bull Junior Team led the way ahead of Tio Ellinas, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Roberto Merhi and Tom Dillmann.
Third pole for Rowland
Matthieu Vaxiviere ended the first stint in the lead before the switch was made to new tyres. After a short interruption due to Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing) stopping on the circuit, Nyck de Vries (DAMS) kicked-off the final sprint in which Oliver Rowland came out on top with a time of 1:17.641, ahead of Formula Renault 3.5 returnee for the weekend Marlon Stockinger and Matthieu Vaxiviere. Dean Stoneman (DAMS) was fourth quickest and best among the rookies, while Roberto Merhi and Nyck de Vries qualified on row three.
The fourth by Vaxiviere
The second session began under threatening skies. There were numerous improvements and Meindert van Buuren (Pons Racing) was quickest until a red flag stoppage provoked by Beitske Visser (AVF). Despite a few rain drops, Roberto Merhi went quicker than his team mate, as did Nyck de Vries Matthieu Vaxiviere, Pietro Fantin and Oliver Rowland. The Frenchman won out with a best time of 1:18.160, ahead of Roberto Merhi, Oliver Rowland and the rookies, Nyck de Vries and Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing).
Oliver Rowland : “To be honest, this morning I drove like a nutter and the car stayed on track. In addition, I wasn’t totally satisfied with the balance. In the second session, anyone could have won the pole ! I struggled a little early on. I thought it was due to the rain, but when the track dried, I went off. I had to use reverse gear in the gravel ! I only had one lap so I am quite satisfied.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere : “It is a mixed picture. In spite of our pole position, the first session was extremely complicated due to traffic, which was nearly impossible to manage. We were able to limit the damage with the third place before this pole position, which is positive.”
Roberto Merhi : “We’ve improved a lot more than during the running of the previous meetings. We didn’t have the right set-up during the first session and that is why we only finished fifth. It went better this evening, but we still have work to do to catch up to Fortec Motorsports and Lotus guys who are really strong. The races are long, but I am rather confident. After all, Rosberg started second in the F1 race and went on to win !”