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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