Qualifying: A French affair

There was a strong French presence at the top of the timesheets in qualifying for the third round of the Dallara Nissan World Series, with Bruce Jouanny and Bruno Besson taking their first ever pole positions

Qualifying: A French affair

Carlin Motorsport's Jouanny was the fastest man in the dry opening session for race one, although heavy overnight rain left the track damp in places. Nevertheless, the former British Formula 3 driver was one of a few drivers to better his Friday practice time to deny Gabord Competicion's Franck Montagny his fourth pole of the season.

Jouanny said: "I thought the lap I did was quick, but I was not sure that it would be good enough for pole. The car was fantastic, very easy to drive. Everybody in the team has done a great job."

Championship leader Montagny had a difficult session, suffering with a sticking throttle that caused him to go off the track on three separate occasions, but he still did enough to claim a front row spot. Racing Engineering's Stephane Sarrazin completed a French clean sweep of the top three places, and the former Toyota F1 tester could even have taken pole had his best lap not been cut short by the second of two red flag periods.

Narain Karthekeyan made it a good session for Carlin Motorsport with fourth, just 0.011s ahead of Montagny's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and the second Racing Engineering entry of Bas Leinders.

Bruno Besson was a competitive seventh, but things got even better for the Saulnier Racing driver in race two qualifying. A brief downpour in between the 30-minute sessions left the track too wet for slick tyres to begin with. However, it dried gradually and in the closing minutes the times tumbled as slicks became the order of the day.

A good call from Besson's pit meant he was one of the first to change, and with more heat in his rubber than his rivals he took full advantage and his first ever World Series pole.

Besson said: "This is a very good result for the team at its home race and in front of the sponsors and guests. I think we have made a good step forward. Although I'm not thinking about the win at the moment, I do think the top five is possible."

Enrique Bernoldi changed tyres shortly after Besson and put a great lap together to secure a front row slot. Sarrazin was third again, and once again ahead of Karthikeyan in fourth. Vergani Formula's Angel Burgueno was a career-best fifth, while Montagny failed to switch to slicks in time, and despite topping the times for most of the session, wound up sixth.

Bruce Jouanny Carlin Motorsport 1m28.140s
Franck Montagny Gabord Competicion 1m28.295s
Stephane Sarrazin Racing Engineering 1m28.345s
Narain Karthikeyan Tata Team Carlin 1m28.401s
Heikki Kovalainen Gabord Competicion 1m28.412s
Bas Leinders Racing Engineering 1m28.821s
Bruno Besson Saulnier Racing 1m28.915s
Jean Christophe Ravier Epsilon Euskadi 1m28.942s
Felix Porteiro KTR 1m28.975s
Polo Villaamil RC Motorsport 1m29.004s

Bruno Besson Saulnier Racing 1m35.775s
Enrique Bernoldi GD Racing 1m35.933s
Stephane Sarrazin Racing Engineering 1m36.162s
Narain Karthikeyan Tata Team Carlin 1m36.353s
Angel Burgueno Repsol Racing for Spain 1m36.736s
Franck Montagny Gabord Competicion 1m37.271s
Carlos Pereira RC Motorsport 1m37.688s
Jean Christophe Ravier Epsilon Euskadi 1m37.902s
Paul Edwards KTR 1m38.202s
Bruce Jouanny Carlin Motorsport 1m38.798s

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