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Barter takes double pole for French F4 opener at Nogaro

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: Roger Gascoigne

Hugh Barter dominated qualifying for the season-opening round of the French Formula 4 championship at Nogaro.

His best time of 1m28.127s on his fourth lap of the session was good enough to beat Souta Arao by 0.083 seconds.

Having never previously qualified on pole position in his single-seater career, Barter will start both race one and race three from the front of the grid by virtue of also setting the fastest second-best lap. His time of 1m28.149s was still faster than any other driver could manage in the session.

The high degradation of the Pirelli tyres again meant that all the meaningful times were set in the first 10 minutes of the 25-minute session. Indeed, with five minutes on the clock all but five cars had returned to the pits.

Track temperatures were much higher than in the morning’s free practice session. With 24 cars circulating on the twisty 3.636km circuit, traffic made finding the ideal lap in the narrow tyre degradation window particularly challenging.

Pierre-Alexandre Provost posted the third-fastest time to take third place on the grid for race one on Sunday, ahead of Elliott Vayron, Alessandro Giusti and Enzo Geraci. He will start race three on Monday from the front row, his second-fastest time 0.214s behind Barter’s.

Giusti will start third in the third race, although Red Bull/Honda junior Souta’s second-fastest lap was 0.456s down on his best lap, dropping him to fifth on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Vayron returned to the front on Saturday after his running in Friday’s private practice sessions had been compromised by a turbo failure and will start fourth in both races.

Belgo-Basque rookie Lorens Lecertua was unable to maintain his impressive form so far during the weekend and, despite running in the top three in the early stages, fell back to seventh at the flag, ahead of Dario Cabanelas and the second Red Bull/Honda junior Yuto Nomura.

The session finished under a red flag although with only one car, Amir Sayed, on track at the time there was no impact on the finishing order.

Starting positions for the second race, to be held on Sunday afternoon, are determined by the results of race one, with the top ten starting in reverse order.

Race 1 grid
1 Hugh Barter 1m28.127s
2 Souta Arao +0.083s
3 Pierre-Alexandre Provost +0.122s
4 Elliott Vayron +0.328s
5 Alessandro Giusti +0.392s
6 Enzo Geraci +0.639s
7 Lorens Lecertua +0.668s
8 Dario Cabanelas +0.700s
9 Yuto Nomura +0.723s
10 Enzo Peugeot +0.773s

Race 3 grid
1 Barter 1m28.149s
2 Provost +0.214s
3 Giusti +0.389s
4 Vayron +0.471s
5 Arao +0.517s
6 Cabanelas +0.684s
7 Lecertua +0.738s
8 Geraci +0.783s
9 Nomura +0.871s
10 Edgar Pierre +0.922s