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Magnussen lands first Formula Renault 3.5 pole at Spa-Francorchamps

Kevin MagnussenKevin Magnussen took his first Formula Renault 3.5 pole position at Spa on Saturday morning.

The Carlin rookie was a factor in the fight for pole throughout the session, and he had to respond to two stunning laps from championship leader Sam Bird (ISR) to regain the place he held for much of qualifying.

While Bird's initial lap was just enough to edge him into first place, the Briton appeared to be repeating his Monaco qualifying performance when his second lap took him 0.8 seconds clear of the field with six minutes to go.

But Magnussen, who quickly looked at home around the Belgian track during Friday's free practice sessions, was able to respond to the Briton's time three minutes later to grab pole by less than one tenth of a second.

Marco Sorensen was consistently on the fringes of the pole position battle and took third on the grid for Lotus, while Jules Bianchi (Tech 1), who did not set a lap-time until 24 minutes into the 30-minute session, managed to set the fourth quickest time with only his second hot lap.

Bianchi had briefly appeared on track earlier on, but the first half of qualifying was heavily disrupted. Richie Stanaway (Lotus) brought out the red flags six minutes in when he got on the dirt off line at Malmedy and crashed, while officials put out a full-course yellow flag for four minutes just before halfway when RFR's Anton Nebilitskiy stopped at Raidillion.

Behind Bianchi, Fortec team-mates Carlos Huertas and Robin Frijns make up the third row, ahead of former champion Mikhail Aleshin (RFR) and Bird's ISR team-mate Jake Rosenzweig. Draco's Nico Muller and DAMS driver Arthur Pic complete the top 10.

Several drivers did not get a chance to complete their final hot laps, as Yann Cunha (Pons) brought out the red flags with 16 seconds left on the clock when he spun on the exit of Fagnes and could not get going.

Championship frontrunner Kevin Korjus was the slowest qualifier, after his Tech 1 car was the latest to be struck by the pneumatic pressure problem which has affected several cars so far this season.

The Estonian, who could not change gear once the problem struck, will start on the penultimate row of the grid, as Stanaway and Nebilitskiy had their best times taken away and did not have a second lap-time to fall back on.

Pos  Driver              Team        Time       Gap
 1.  Kevin Magnussen     Carlin      1m57.423s
 2.  Sam Bird            ISR         1m57.492s  + 0.069s
 3.  Marco Sorensen      Lotus       1m57.623s  + 0.200s
 4.  Jules Bianchi       Tech 1      1m57.822s  + 0.399s
 5.  Carlos Huertas      Fortec      1m57.982s  + 0.559s
 6.  Robin Frijns        Fortec      1m58.249s  + 0.826s
 7.  Mikhail Aleshin     RFR         1m58.267s  + 0.844s
 8.  Jake Rosenzweig     ISR         1m58.382s  + 0.959s
 9.  Nico Muller         Draco       1m58.440s  + 1.017s
10.  Arthur Pic          DAMS        1m58.451s  + 1.028s
11.  Will Stevens        Carlin      1m58.533s  + 1.110s
12.  Daniil Move         P1          1m58.638s  + 1.215s
13.  Nick Yelloly        Comtec      1m58.702s  + 1.279s
14.  Walter Grubmuller   P1          1m59.148s  + 1.725s
15.  Alexander Rossi     Arden       1m59.190s  + 1.767s
16.  Andre Negrao        Draco       1m59.435s  + 2.012s
17.  Nikolay Martsenko   BVM Target  1m59.532s  + 2.109s
18.  Lewis Williamson    Arden       1m59.684s  + 2.261s
19.  Vittorio Ghirelli   Comtec      1m59.876s  + 2.453s
20.  Zoel Amberg         Pons        1m59.933s  + 2.510s
21.  Giovanni Venturini  BVM Target  2m00.053s  + 2.630s
22.  Yann Cunha          Pons        2m00.220s  + 2.797s
23.  Lucas Foresti       DAMS        2m00.538s  + 3.115s
24.  Kevin Korjus        Tech 1      2m04.276s  + 6.853s
25.  Richie Stanaway     Lotus       -
26.  Anton Nebylitskiy   RFR         -
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