Dallara Nissan World Series championship leader Franck Montagny is on course to wrap up the title with two rounds still to run after setting the pace in pre-race testing at Barcelona. A win for the Frenchman this weekend would put him out of reach of his nearest rivals and given his form so far this season, it would take a brave man to bet against him
The gang of drivers with a chance of denying the Gabord Competicion driver the crown - Bas Leiders, Stephane Sarrazin and Narain Karthikeyan - were eclipsed in the first of the two practice sessions by Spaniard Ander Vilarino. The Epsilon driver was 0.7s faster than team-mate Ravier, with Karthikeyan third and Montagny fourth. Vilarino could not match that in the second session, where he was fifth fastest, but his morning time was actually the quickest of the day.
Sarrazin, the pacesetter in last week's test session at the Circuit de Catalunya, did his prospects some harm by spinning in the first session, causing damage to the nose and left front suspension of his Racing Engineering car. He recovered to set the fourth best time later on.
It was a day of numerous red flags, with Enrique Bernoldi, Didier Andre and Polo Villaamil all delaying proceedings at one point. All were able to continue later: Villaamil with a singed helmet after a fire broke out in the RC Motorsports pit! His new team-mate Norbert Siedler was less fortunate. After switching from Zele Racing, which is absent this weekend due to a lack of funds, the Austrian was struck down with a fever and after struggling through the first session, he was sent back to his hotel to recuperate before qualifying tomorrow.
With two bonus points on offer for pole, the two qualifying sessions present practically the last opportunity for the title hopefuls to stop Montagny's seemingly relentless title charge.
F Montagny Gabord 1m33.887s JC Ravier Epsilon 1m34.100s N Karthikeyan Carlin 1m34.255s S Sarrazin Racing Engineering 1m34.480s A Vilarino Epsilon 1m34.493s B Besson Saulnier 1m34.549s
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