MP Motorsport locked out the front row once again for the second and final Formula Renault Northern European Cup race on the streets of Pau, with Alex Peroni claiming pole position amid changeable conditions.
Surface water on the circuit made wet tyres the go-to choice for the start of the session, but an early red flag after ScoRace Team’s Sharon Scolari spun on the run down to La Gare presented the field with the option to switch to slicks for the remainder of the 15-minute session.
Peroni and team-mate Christian Lundgaard made the call first, swiftly followed by Tech1 Racing as Red Bull-backed Neil Verhagen and Frank Bird also changed compounds.
The rest of the grid stayed on wets and initially held the upper hand as the clock restarted at a little over ten minutes, but progressively the disparity between the two compounds diminished, and the quartet on slicks started to light up the sector times.
Renault Sport Academy racer Lundgaard initially looked on course to claim a second consecutive pole position of the weekend in the #31 car, but ultimately Peroni’s final flying lap of 1:19.528 seconds pipped the Danish driver by just over a tenth of a second.
Verhagen will head up the second row in third, with another impressive drive on wets from R-ace GP’s Charles Milesi earning him fourth.
Logan Sargeant will start fifth in the sister car, hoping for a repeat of his podium in torrentially wet conditions during the opening race.
Alexander Smolyar (Tech1 Racing) will start sixth ahead of Victor Martins and Bird.
Gabriel Gandulia will start as the highest placed full-season NEC entry after he qualified eleventh, just behind Fortec Motorsport’s Arthur Rougier and the final Tech1 car of Thomas Neubauer.
Formula Motorsport driver Nicolas Pironneau comes next ahead of Anders Motorsport’s Doureid Ghattas, who scored an impressive top-ten finish on his debut in single-seaters last time out.
Nicolas Melin (Formula Motorsport), Thiery Malhomme (Lamo Racing Car, the second Anders-run car of Phil Hill and the unfortunate Scolari round out the field.
The final race of the weekend is scheduled to get underway at 18:02 CEST.
Alex Peroni (#32) said, “That was another tricky session! We went out on wets, and straight away I thought it might be weather for slicks, so when the red flag came I knew that was what we needed to do.
“The first couple of laps afterwards were so slippery, I was hoping I’d made the right choice, but as the session went on it got progressively better and the last two sectors were basically dry. It all worked out in the end.
“Having clear air is important, as I found out yesterday, following somebody you just can’t see anything. The aim is definitely to win, and we’ve got the best starting position – we just need to keep it.”
Gabriel Gandulia (#5) said, “It’s really good to be the quickest full-season NEC driver again. My aim all weekend has been to match my team-mates from the Eurocup, and we have some work to do in the second sector to achieve that. We saw yesterday how difficult this circuit is to overtake on, so first and foremost we need to finish the race and if possible move forward without any mistakes.
“It’s good to have experience in as many conditions as possible and it changes the mentality. My team and the other drivers have a lot of experience on this circuit and with the car, so I can continue to learn a lot from that.”