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Prior to collective testing, Charles Pic had never driven on the famous Monaco circuit. On today's evidence, however, the young Tech 1 Racing driver is learning fast. Pic handled the pressure admirably as, on a wet and perilous surface, he picked up his first pole position in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. He will be joined on the front row of the grid by Giedo Van der Garde.
In a bid to ensure safe and fluid driving, the competitors were split into two groups based on their positions in the overall standings. Group A, which included championship leader Giedo Van der Garde (P1 Motorsport), were the first to go, on a track still damp from a sudden downpour just a few minutes before the scheduled start.
With the track still damp, the drivers were walking on eggshells early on. Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing) set the initial pace. The Tech 1 man dominated the first part of the session, with Giedo Van der Garde and Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) battling it out for second place.
Pablo Sanchez clipped a block in the tunnel and got quite a fright when his rear spoiler came loose. Fortunately, the Mexican driver was able to bring his car under control without ending up in the barriers.
Julien Jousse improved his time at each attempt, claiming the lead with a lap timed at 1'44''903. Then, as the track gradually dried out, Giedo Van der Garde cranked things up a notch in his customary fashion, going top with a time of 1'44''490.
All the drivers were now ready to up the pace. Unfortunately, Daniil Moove (KTR) crashed off at Bureau de Tabac, damaging his car and precipitating a red flag that brought the session to a premature close. Giedo Van der Garde therefore claimed the best time, ahead of Julien Jousse, Bertrand Baguette and James Walker (Fortec Motorsport).
With the track drying by the second, the drivers in group 2 immediately produced times comparable to their group 1 counterparts. Charles Pic was the first to go quicker than Giedo Van der Garde, with a lap timed at 1'44''213. At that stage he was trailed by Miguel Molina (Prema Powerteam), Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport), Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature) and Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com Racing Team) in that order. The standings would frequently change, however, with all of these drivers at some stage occupying provisional pole position.
Miguel Molina was the first competitor to opt for a set of slicks. At that point, Charles Pic was leading from Guillaume Moreau (KTR) and Fabio Carbone. Almost all the driver then followed Molina in changing their tyres. It was all set to go down to the last lap.
As might have been expected, Miguel Molina was the first to unseat Pic from first position. Mikhail Aleshin then momentarily held the fastest time, before everything changed on the final lap as Charles Pic reclaimed pole position in the dying seconds. He was followed by Fairuz Fauzy (Fortec Motorsport), making a successful return to the category, with Aleshin in third and Guillaume Moreau fourth.
Charles Pic: The last lap on slick tyres wasn't easy. I had to go for broke and I couldn't afford to mess up! The Tech 1 Racing team have prepared the perfect car for me. I feel at ease on this circuit, it suits my style of driving. It adds a bit of pressure to perform in the race, though.
Giedo Van der Garde: As far as the championship goes, I'm happy to see Charles Pic in pole position! It was really difficult in the rain this morning. The white strips were really slippery. I managed to improve my time bit by bit. We'll see what happens tomorrow, but any rain will be to my advantage, as the car handled perfectly in wet conditions this morning.
World Series by Renault
Tech 1 Racing
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