The World Series Formula V8 3.5 made a further step towards excellence today at Circuit Of The Americas, where teams and drivers of the RPM-MKTG promoted championship hit the the track in the eighth round of the season, the second held overseas for 2017. It’s the first time for a major single-seater developmental championship in Austin as the series continues to run alongside the FIA WEC in the next chapter of a so far successful tie-up.

The 5.5-kilometer state-of-the-art venue welcomed the drivers with high temperatures and its challenging layout in a quick-starting weekend. Because the FIA WEC is racing on Saturday, all the activity was anticipated by one day. The opening day at Circuit Of The Americas featured two 50-minute Collective Test sessions necessary for the drivers to adapt to a technical circuit and Qualifying 1, which set the starting grid for tomorrow’s Race 1.

Delivering a brilliant team effort, in the end, it was Lotus to secure the pole with a front row lockout consisting of Rene Binder and Pietro Fittipaldi. The Austrian, who is at his first pole of 2017, carried a 0.168s margin to the end beating his Brazilian team-mate, who was unable to improve his record of 10 poles this season but still took home a promising result.

At the end of the first series of qualifying runs, Egor Orudzhev (SMP Racing by AVF) had the lead from Binder, Fittipaldi, Alex Palou and Matevos Isaakyan (SMP Racing by AVF). As the chequered flag fell, Orudzhev had to settle for third but will also need to serve a 2-position grid penalty from Mexico promoting Palou, the best rookie of the weekend so far, to P3 for Teo Martin Motorsport. Isaakyan will move up to P4 while Konstantin Tereschenko (Teo Martin Motorsport) will take-off from P6.

In Collective Test 1, the SMP Racing by AVF pairing of Isaakyan and Orudzhev led the way by taking first and second place respectively, separated by just 34 thousands of a second while Palou brought home third place in front of Fittipaldi. The lap of 1:50.455 set by Orudzhev remained the fastest practice mark overall. Collective Test 02 featured hard battling among the drivers, especially in the closing minutes. In the end, it was Austrian racer Rene Binder (Lotus) to prevail, taking the lead at a last gasp with a lap time of 1’50”501. He edged Orudzhev (SMP Racing by AVF) while Palou was third overall.

Rene Binder – Lotus
“Finally I did it, a pole position, the first of the season so far. I’m really happy because it was a mega lap and the battle was tough. It was also a tough day but the team can now celebrate a 1-2 and we’ll do our best to bring it home tomorrow.”
 
Pietro Fittipaldi – Lotus
“I’m really happy for the team because they did a great job again. I went out, the same as in Mexico, not knowing the track. Actually, in Mexico it was a little bit easier because there aren’t many fast corners while here there are some, especially in the first and second sector. It took a while and we had to maximize the running time we had in practice. We did it all in qualifying, but Rene did a good job too. There is another qualifying tomorrow, and we’ll have a debriefing to maximize the set-up and my driving to push for the pole”.
 
Alex Palou – Teo Martin Motorsport
“It’s a new challenge on a new track. It’s good to be back with the team and car so I can improve my chemistry with both. It’s a very important element to be able to turn laps with the same package. In Mexico, we actually suffered a bit in terms of car performance but we made some small improvements, and third place is enough. Now we have all the night to work for qualifying to try and take the pole tomorrow.”