Carlos Sainz Jr took his second Formula Renault 3.5 pole position of the weekend at Spa on Sunday, fending off a challenge from title rival Oliver Rowland.
The Spaniard and the Briton traded blows during the first runs of the session, with DAMS driver Sainz reaching the halfway point of qualifying with an advantage of four tenths of a second.
Everyone in the field improved significantly on new tyres for the second runs, and after Rowland – who lost ground in the title race after a fuel-feed problem forced him to retire from race one – aborted his first hot lap he had slipped to 19th in the 20-car field.
By that time Sainz was nearly half a second clear of Will Stevens at the front, but Rowland’s next lap was good enough to split the top two and earn a spot on the front row for Fortec.
Third marked a welcome return to qualifying form for Stevens after a troubled Saturday, while series returnee Richie Stanaway showed that his qualifying speed yesterday was no fluke as he again took a second row starting slot.
After coming through a chaotic first race to take a podium from 14th on the grid, Jazeman Jaafar got himself into the top five for race two. Pietro Fantin took sixth as one of the only cars to improve when the chequered flag came out.
Sainz’s Red Bull junior team stablemate Pierre Gasly – who was best of the rest behind the championship leader in race one and moved into second in the points – struggled on new tyres and could only qualify 11th.
The reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion had been on course to improve on his final lap, but his chance of moving up the order was lost in the final sector.