Le Mans FR3.5: Oliver Rowland claims race one pole for Fortec

Championship leader Oliver Rowland claimed his sixth Formula Renault 3.5 pole position of 2015, and third in a row, in a tightly contested qualifying session at Le Mans on Saturday

Le Mans FR3.5: Oliver Rowland claims race one pole for Fortec

The Fortec driver recovered from a nervy start to the half-hour session, when two of his fastest laps were deleted for track limits violations, to take command in the closing stages.

The top three drivers were separated by just 0.083 seconds; Egor Orudzhev equalled his highest grid position of the season in second ahead of Rowland's title rival Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Should Racing Steps Foundation-supported driver Rowland win the first race at Le Mans and Vaxiviere fail to finish in the top 10, the Briton would seal the FR3.5 drivers' title.

Friday practice pacesetter Tom Dillmann set the early running and will join compatriot Vaxiviere on an all-French second row.

Double 2015 race winner Tio Ellinas again featured strongly and ended the morning fifth, ahead of leading DAMS driver Dean Stoneman.

Red Bull junior Stoneman joined Rowland, and a large number of competitors, in having several laps erased for falling foul of track limit regulations.

Turn 6 proved particularly tricky to negotiate cleanly, and GP3 runner-up Stoneman languished in 15th position with a minute of the half-hour session to spare before moving up the order.

Rowland was also made to sweat in the first third of the session. After fleetingly moving to the top of the timing screens on two occasions, Rowland's fastest laps were erased for running wide at Turn 10.

When Beitske Visser brought out the red flags by spinning spin 10 minutes into the session, Rowland was left last and over five seconds in arrears of Vaxiviere's provisional pole time.

The Sheffield driver composed himself on the restart and was swiftly in command.

AVF driver Visser's troubles left the Dutch racer last behind debutant Nikita Zlobin, who because of flight troubles en route to Le Mans was unable to complete the traditional sighting lap in his preparations for the meeting.

Among those to have quick laps deleted were Marlon Stockinger, Monaco winner Jazeman Jaafar, Nyck de Vries, Gustav Malja and Nicholas Latifi.

QUALIFYING RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 1m21.002s -
2 Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 1m21.051s 0.049s
3 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 1m21.085s 0.083s
4 Tom Dillmann Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1m21.208s 0.206s
5 Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 1m21.282s 0.280s
6 Dean Stoneman DAMS 1m21.363s 0.361s
7 Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing 1m21.571s 0.569s
8 Nyck de Vries DAMS 1m21.675s 0.673s
9 Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing 1m21.690s 0.688s
10 Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 1m21.762s 0.760s
11 Yu Kanamaru Pons Racing 1m21.906s 0.904s
12 Andre Negrao International Draco Racing 1m22.006s 1.004s
13 Alfonso Celis AVF 1m22.027s 1.025s
14 Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 1m22.120s 1.118s
15 Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 1m22.185s 1.183s
16 Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1m22.306s 1.304s
17 Marlon Stockinger Lotus 1m22.527s 1.525s
18 Nikita Zlobin Pons Racing 1m23.479s 2.477s
- Beitske Visser AVF 1m32.151s 11.149s


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FR3.5 Le Mans: Tom Dillmann fastest in free practice on home soil

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