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LE MANS, France – Following a morning downpour, the grey skies over Le Mans held off for today's EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series qualifying sessions. On a drying track, Ander Vilarino and Olivier Porta dominated proceedings in the Elite and Open divisions respectively, ensuring they will be the final pole-sitters of the 2012 campaign.
All of the drivers were shod with wet weather tyres when the session got underway. On a drying track, it was not until the dying seconds of qualifying that the identity of tomorrow's Elite Division poleman was known. True to form, championship leader Vilarino (#2 TFT-Banco Santander) emerged on top to secure his third P1 start of the year, handing the Spaniard a psychological advantage over title rivals Romain Thievin (#99 Still Racing-Exotics Racing), who will line up fourth, and Javier Villa (#64 Gonneau Racing) who took eighth. "I made a mistake though La Chapelle corner but Roman was hampered in the last turn, so luck was on my side today," Vilarino admitted afterwards.
Romain Fournillier (#11 Over Drive-McDonald's) gatecrashed the title battle by taking second and could have snatched pole were it not for a slight error at the Dunlop chicane. Gaël Castelli (#6 Rapido Racing) secured third after rapidly adapting to his new car, while Antoine Lioen (#5 Rapido Racing) and Thievin completed the top-five ahead of Wilfried Boucenna (#17 Pole Position 81) and Bruno Cosin (#55 Pole Position 81), the latter ranking as the best Challenger class runner.
A few hours before the start of their sprint race, which gets underway at 17.15, the Open Division drivers qualified on what was a relatively dry track, allowing them to run slick rubber. Olivier Porta (#96 TFT-Alpes Carrelage) announced his arrival in the series in the best possible fashion with pole position, ahead of Gerald Cormon (#25 Orhès Competition), Vincent Gonneau (#15 Gonneau Racing), Simon Escallier (#19 Scorpus Racing) and Tanguy Ide (#44 Orhès Competition). Alain Grand (#11 Over Drive-McDonald's) narrowly missed out on the leading quintet, meaning five of the chief title contenders will start in the top-six.