Merhi takes Shock Moscow Race 2 Pole

by Paul Hensby

Qualifying for race two at the Moscow Raceway saw a surprise pole sitter in the form of Roberto Merhi. The young Spaniard set a time of 1:20.773s towards the end of the session to put his Zeta Corse machine on the top of the timing screens.

New Zealander Richie Stanaway will join him on the front row; the Lotus driver was the only other competitor to break through the 1:21s barrier. Stanaway missed out on his maiden pole position in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series by the smallest of margins – 0.015s.

Pierre Gasly, currently second in the championship standings, will start race two from third position on the grid. The Frenchman, part of the Red Bull junior programme, will be hoping for an improved race two after stalling on the grid before race one in his Arden Motorsport machine.

Likewise, fourth placed Oliver Rowland will also be hoping to avoid stalling on the line. Like Gasly, he was forced to start race one from the pit lane, but ultimately crashed out of the race in an incident with DAMS driver Carlos Sainz Jr on the seventh lap while fighting for seventeenth position.

Race one winner Sergey Sirotkin will start race two from fifth position, finishing 0.001s behind his Fortec Motorsport team-mate Rowland. Sixth place will start Philippines driver Marlon Stockinger in the second Lotus who seemed to have found some extra pace over night after finishing in the minor points positions in race one.

Yesterday’s runner-up Zoel Amberg will start from seventh place on the race two grid for AV Formula, ahead of Matias Lainé of Strakka Racing, who has began to show some kind of form in the past number of races. Unseen by many in race one, he overtook Stanaway in the closing stages to take eighth place off the Lotus driver.

Sainz Jr had a much-improved qualifying session on Sunday, and took the ninth fastest time. However with his two-place penalty handed to him by the stewards for the collision with Rowland in race one, he will start in eleventh.

Ninth therefore is inherited by the second AV Formula machine of Dutch teenager Beitske Visser, who enjoyed her best qualifying session of the season. The second Strakka Racing entry of Caterham F1 test driver Will Stevens struggled during the session but will start the race from tenth.

Moscow Raceway Race 2 Qualifying Result

1 Roberto Merhi ESP Zeta Corse 1:20.773
2 Richie Stanaway NZL Lotus 1:20.788
3 Pierre Gasly FRA Arden Motorsport 1:21.325
4 Oliver Rowland GBR Fortec Motorsports 1:21.388
5 Sergey Sirotkin RUS Fortec Motorsports 1:21.389
6 Marlon Stockinger PHI Lotus 1:21.406
7 Zoel Amberg SWI AV Formula 1:21.487
8 Matias Lainé FIN Strakka Racing 1:21.539
9 Beitske Visser NED AV Formula 1:21.614
10 Will Stevens GBR Strakka Racing 1:21.681
11* Carlos Sainz Jr ESP DAMS 1:21.575
12 William Buller GBR Arden Motorsport 1:21.729
13 Oscar Tunjo COL Pons Racing 1:21.729
14 Jazeman Jaafar MAL ISR 1:21.730
15 Norman Nato FRA DAMS 1:21.975
16 Marco Sorensen DEN Tech 1 Racing 1:21.998
17 Luca Ghiotto ITA International Draco Racing 1:22.129
18 Roman Mavlanov RUS Zeta Corse 1:22.139
19 Meindert van Buuren NED Pons Racing 1:22.380
20 Pietro Fantin BRZ International Draco Racing 1:26.434

*2 place grid drop penalty


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