Wet weather may have hit Paul Ricard on Sunday morning but the Jean-Eric Vergne’s desperate fight to keep the Formula Renault 3.5 championship alive continued as he took his second pole position of the weekend.
The Frenchman may have had several off track excursions and spins during the session but he was not to be denied on home soil and took pole on his final run by 0.814 seconds from Alexander Rossi.
Daniel Ricciardo topped the timesheets at the halfway point of the session with a time of 2m14.399 seconds ahead of Rossi, Robert Wickens, Albert Costa and Daniil Move as Vergne struggled on the damp track.
However, he was not to be denied at Le Castellet wet or dry and after composing himself following some off-track moments, rose to the top of the standings by beating his Red Bull backed compatriot by three tenths of a second.
With just a few minutes remaining on a drying track, Rossi demoted the Frenchman to second to take provisional pole but Vergne stole the show with an astounding lap of 2m13.142 seconds, almost a second faster than the Fortec driver.
Vergne said: “It was like a skating rink out there. I spun twice. With these tyres you've got one or two good laps; after that it's difficult to improve. So you can't screw up. I'd prefer a dry track this afternoon as in the rain it can all go wrong very quickly!”
Rossi will start alongside Vergne for this afternoon’s race and will be keen to banish the memories of Yesterday’s race, where he was classified 17th after part of Wickens’ front wing became lodged in his right side pod.
Rossi said: “We were quick in the dry and we're also on the pace in the wet. Yesterday, my race was ruined by a piece of another car which got stuck under the flat bottom. Today, I have to win!”
In his final World Series by Renault race of thes eason, Ricciardo will line up third alongside the impressive American Jake Rosenzweig, who was fourth for Mofaz Yesterday.
In only his second Formula Renault 3.5 meeting since his switch from Gp3, Nick Yelloly qualified a very creditable fifth.
His team mate Oliver Webb was not to enjoy similar success, though.
The Brit had provisionally set the second quickest time of the session but was stripped of his fastest run because he had exceeded the limits of the track to gain an advantage.
The decision relegated the Pons Racing driver to 15th.
Frenchman Nelson Panciatici will start sixth alongside Yelloly while championship leader Wickens could qualify only seventh.
Daniel De Jong, who recently ran in Formula Renault 2.0, will line up in eighth on his dÃ©but weekend in the category.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 2m13.142s 2. Alexander Rossi Fortec 2m13.956s + 0.814s 3. Daniel Ricciardo ISR 2m13.981s + 0.839s 4. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 2m14.739s + 1.597s 5. Nick Yelloly Pons 2m14.750s + 1.608s 6. Nelson Panciatici KMP 2m14.752s + 1.610s 7. Robert Wickens Carlin 2m14.889s + 1.747s 8. Daniel de Jong Comtec 2m14.989s + 1.847s 9. Albert Costa Epic 2m15.005s + 1.863s 10. Daniil Move P1 2m15.062s + 1.920s 11. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz 2m15.190s + 2.048s 12. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target 2m15.239s + 2.097s 13. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target 2m15.579s + 2.437s 14. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 2m15.641s + 2.499s 15. Oliver Webb Pons 2m15.647s + 2.505s 16. Stephane Richelmi Draco 2m15.721s + 2.579s 17. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 2m15.811s + 2.669s 18. Andre Negrao Draco 2m15.867s + 2.725s 19. Sten Pentus Epic 2m15.925s + 2.783s 20. Daniel McKenzie Comtec 2m15.950s + 2.808s 21. Cesar Ramos Fortec 2m16.019s + 2.877s 22. Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz 2m16.147s + 3.005s 23. Walter Grubmuller P1 2m16.255s + 3.113s 24. Arthur Pic Tech 1 2m16.323s + 3.181s 25. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 2m16.513s + 3.371s 26. Nathanael Berthon ISR 2m17.006s + 3.864s