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Spa FR3.5: Red Bull rising star Carlos Sainz Jr on pole again

Carlos Sainz Jr, DAMS, Spa FR3.5 2014

Carlos Sainz Jr took his second Formula Renault 3.5 pole position of the weekend at Spa on Sunday, fending off a challenge from title rival Oliver Rowland.

The Spaniard and the Briton traded blows during the first runs of the session, with DAMS driver Sainz reaching the halfway point of qualifying with an advantage of four tenths of a second.

Everyone in the field improved significantly on new tyres for the second runs, and after Rowland - who lost ground in the title race after a fuel-feed problem forced him to retire from race one - aborted his first hot lap he had slipped to 19th in the 20-car field.

By that time Sainz was nearly half a second clear of Will Stevens at the front, but Rowland's next lap was good enough to split the top two and earn a spot on the front row for Fortec.

Third marked a welcome return to qualifying form for Stevens after a troubled Saturday, while series returnee Richie Stanaway showed that his qualifying speed yesterday was no fluke as he again took a second row starting slot.

After coming through a chaotic first race to take a podium from 14th on the grid, Jazeman Jaafar got himself into the top five for race two. Pietro Fantin took sixth as one of the only cars to improve when the chequered flag came out.

Sainz's Red Bull junior team stablemate Pierre Gasly - who was best of the rest behind the championship leader in race one and moved into second in the points - struggled on new tyres and could only qualify 11th.

The reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion had been on course to improve on his final lap, but his chance of moving up the order was lost in the final sector.

Pos  Driver               Team        Time       Gap
 1.  Carlos Sainz Jr      DAMS        1m58.319s
 2.  Oliver Rowland       Fortec      1m58.679s  +0.360s
 3.  Will Stevens         Strakka     1m58.815s  +0.496s
 4.  Richie Stanaway      Lotus       1m58.955s  +0.636s
 5.  Jazeman Jaafar       ISR         1m59.058s  +0.739s
 6.  Pietro Fantin        Draco       1m59.061s  +0.742s
 7.  Sergey Sirotkin      Fortec      1m59.071s  +0.752s
 8.  Matias Laine         Strakka     1m59.075s  +0.756s
 9.  Marco Sorensen       Tech 1      1m59.179s  +0.860s
10.  Norman Nato          DAMS        1m59.228s  +0.909s
11.  Pierre Gasly         Arden       1m59.312s  +0.993s
12.  Zoel Amberg          AVF         1m59.335s  +1.016s
13.  Marlon Stockinger    Lotus       1m59.372s  +1.053s
14.  Roberto Merhi        Zeta Corse  1m59.417s  +1.098s
15.  Meindert van Buuren  Pons        1m59.516s  +1.197s
16.  Beitske Visser       AVF         1m59.708s  +1.389s
17.  Will Buller          Arden       1m59.772s  +1.453s
18.  Luca Ghiotto         Draco       1m59.909s  +1.590s
19.  Oscar Tunjo          Pons        2m00.381s  +2.062s
20.  Roman Mavlanov       Zeta Corse  2m00.688s  +2.369s
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