Saelens takes pole round the streets of Monaco

A frantic qualifying session for Saturday's F3000 race saw David Saelens take pole position after picking his way round the Monaco streets before ending his session against the barrier

Saelens takes pole round the streets of Monaco

Stephane Sarrazin held the top spot for most of the first session until Saelens went 0.3secs quicker in the dying moments.

The surprise of the second session came from Gauloises Formula driver Sebastien Bourdais who languished in 17th place after the first session and then went on take second place in the last five minutes of the session. "I just got a clear lap - qualifying here was very hard, because I don't know the circuit," he said.

Championship Leader Bruno Junqueira was not quite so fortunate and was blocked, ironically by Bourdais while on a lap which looked good for pole. "The car was not good in the first session, so I changed it for the second. It was very good for my style, but maybe not the best for Monaco. Third is good for the Championship though, especially as I am ahead of Minassian and Webber."

The pressure on all the drivers was immense as 30 cars fought round the narrow streets for 26 grid spots. Kristian Kolby of the DAMS team stalled early on at the Rascasse creating a bottleneck as cars queued in an attempt to get a clear lap. There were tussles and collisions galore as Brit Jamie Davies made contact with Soheil Ayari who then went on to drive over the side of Jaime Melo's Petrobras Jr car.

Davies went on to finish the session in an impressive fourth place, giving Fortec their highest qualifying place of the season. Ayari was slightly less fortunate ending up in 15th place.

Mid way through the second session the top three comprised Minassian, Leinders and Webber. Ironically all three would end up outside the top six. Both Webber and Leinders hit the barrier exiting the swimming pool section and then had to sit back and watch their times slip to seventh and eleventh respectively. Minassian meanwhile got caught in traffic and could not better his time which was only good enough for ninth.

Saelens will hope to carry his qualifying pace, of which he had plenty, over into the race. He said: "I was on a lap 0.3secs faster than my pole lap, but I overdid it. I was standing at the guard rail for the rest of the session, scared I would lose pole. I couldn't even go for a drink, as the Rascasse was closed."

The frantic pace and incident filled qualifying bodes well for the race tomorrow (Saturday).

1 D Saelens Super Nova 1m29.178
2 S Bourdais Gauloises Formula 1m29.242
3 B Junqueira Petrobras Jr 1m29.329
4 J Davies Fortec 1m29.440
5 S Sarrazin McLaren Jr 1m29.446
6 E Bernoldi Red Bull Jr 1m29.529
7 M Webber European Arrows 1m29.531
8 R Mauricio Red Bull Jr 1m29.600
9 N Minassian Super Nova 1m29.685
10 K McGarrity Nordic 1m29.870
11 B Leinders 1m29.890
12 F Montagny DAMS 1m29.908
13 F Alonso Astromega 1m29.966
14 A Piccini Kid Jensen Racing 1m30.008
15 S Ayari Coloni 1m30.101
16 J Wilson Nordic 1m30.108
17 F Gollin Coloni 1m30.212
18 D Manning Arden 1m30.280
19 A Couto Gauloises Formula 1m30.488
20 M Hynes WRT 1m30.584
21 A Mikola WRT 1m30.974
22 C Albers European Arrows 1m31.030
23 F Walfisch Astromega 1m31.124
24 A Scheld Fortec 1m31.161
25 J Van Hooydonk Witmeur KTR 1m31.170
26 V Maslov Arden 1m31.323

Did not qualify
27 K Kolby DAMS 1m31.449
28 T Enge McLaren Jr 1m31.496
29 J Melo Petrobras Jr 1m31.675
30 Y Oliver Witmeur KTR 1m35.067


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