A dramatic late improvement from Victor Martins handed the Renault Sport Academy driver pole position for the second and final Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) race at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, with the top four covered by less than a tenth of a second.
The Frenchman clocked a quickest time of 1:49.722 – the fastest of the weekend thus far – around the 3.6 mile circuit to deny R-ace GP team-mate Fewtrell in the dying embers of the session, the margin between the two rising stars just 0.041 seconds.
Fewtrell’s compatriot Frank Bird (Tech1 Racing) has been one of the weekend’s standout performers and continued to impress with third quickest, in turn edging out home hero Lorenzo Colombo (JD Motorsport) by 0.008s.
Colombo had looked safe at the top of the timesheets with less than a minute remaining, but the ultra-competitive nature of the championship – if ever it was in doubt after an absorbing race yesterday – was highlighted with a late flurry of times.
Thomas Neubauer rounds out the top five in the sister Tech1 Racing machine, with Race 1 winner Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP) for company on the third row of the grid.
Charles Milesi started from pole position yesterday, but was forced to settle for just seventh this time around, whilst Phil Hill (Anders Motorsport) was the highest-placed full season NEC entry in eighth.
R-ace GP’s quintet of cars is completed by Gabriel Gandulia in ninth, with Doureid Ghattas rounding out the top ten in the second Anders-run machine.
Sharon Scolari (ScoRace Team) and Zichao Wang (Cram Motorsport) round out the field, but both have shown consistent improvement in every session over the course of the weekend, and set personal bests en route to 11th and 12th respectively.
The final race of the weekend gets underway at 14:35 CEST, with live streaming available on the championship’s social media feeds.
Victor Martins (#4) said, “I’m very pleased with how qualifying went – it’s my first pole position of the year. It’s a good result for everyone at R-ace GP, and moving forward for the rest of the season.
“I learnt a lot from yesterday. I just did my best and it puts us in a good position heading into this afternoon.
“I just have to stay focused on my race, move forward and not worry about what’s happening behind me. We’ll see how it goes in the race.”
Max Fewtrell (#1) said, “It was a good session. We’ve been struggling with the car all week, so to find that extra chunk of pace was great. Me and the team have moved forward a step overnight, and we all had slipstreams which are vital around here. We managed that well, and I can’t wait for the race later.
“Managing tyres was really hard in the race, but in qualifying this morning it wasn’t too bad. I did a cool-down lap but mostly just to reposition myself on track – they lasted well across the run.
“Obviously we don’t want any clashes as teammates, but I’m going out to win the race this afternoon.”
Frank Bird (#24) said, “The times were so close – less than a tenth! The session went really well, we followed a few people to try and get a tow, and credit to Tech1 Racing – the car was fantastic.
“I’m trying not to get too excited and stay level-headed. Yesterday we had a lot of pace in the race – we were quicker than the guys in front – but it was difficult to get past. Now we’re starting higher, hopefully we can get the job done.”