PREMA Racing claim top spot on debut
Pierre Gasly emerged on top in a dramatic qualifying session this afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya, grabbing his fourth GP2 pole (and third in a row) and the first for PREMA Racing on their series debut in the closing minutes to deny Norman Nato and Alex Lynn as the clock ticked down to zero.
The Red Bull tester stopped the clock at 1:27.807, the last of a string of drivers to stake a claim for the top spot as the times tumbled towards the end of the session, blasting the dreams of his rivals as he finished four tenths to the good over his countryman.
The session opened to warm temperatures but ominous looking clouds, and when the field took to the circuit everyone’s fears looked like coming true as spots of rain were seen on the on-board cameras and a few drivers were sliding already before their fast laps, but it held off as the times became real with Nato, Sergey Sirotkin, Oliver Rowland and Gasly all spent time on the top of the timesheets on their first sets of tyres.
As the sky darkened so did moods in the pitlane, with ART taking a gamble and sending their drivers out early on a new set: Nobuharu Matsushita grabbed P3 and Sirotkin went two better as their rivals emerged, and the French team looked to the skies to see if their plan was going to pay off. But as the clock ticked down the rain held off as first Lynn, then Nato, and finally Gasly grabbed the top spot .
Behind Lynn was DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi, Sirotkin, Gustav Malja, Rowland, Matsushita, Artem Markelov and top rookie Luca Ghiotto, all of them improving on their second sets in an increasingly fast session (last year’s pole position for Stoffel Vandoorne would have only grabbed P12 today), which suggests a blistering pace in tomorrow’s feature race here in Barcelona.
Round 1, Barcelona – Qualifying
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Pierre Gasly
PREMA Racing
1:27.807
9
2.
Norman Nato
Racing Engineering
1:28.271
11
3.
Alex Lynn
DAMS
1:28.458
9
4.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
1:28.563
10
5.
Sergey Sirotkin
ART Grand Prix
1:28.655
10
6.
Gustav Malja
Rapax
1:28.695
12
7.
Oliver Rowland
MP Motorsport
1:28.807
10
8.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:29.128
11
9.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
1:29.129
13
10.
Luca Ghiotto
Trident
1:29.143
13
11.
Antonio Giovinazzi
PREMA Racing
1:29.163
10
12.
Raffaele Marciello
RUSSIAN TIME
1:29.274
10
13.
Jordan King
Racing Engineering
1:29.322
11
14.
Arthur Pic
Rapax
1:29.385
11
15.
Sergio Canamasas
Carlin
1:29.397
12
16.
Marvin Kirchhöfer
Carlin
1:29.440
11
17.
Daniël de Jong
MP Motorsport
1:29.464
12
18.
Mitch Evans
Pertamina Campos Racing
1:29.478
10
19
Jimmy Eriksson
Arden International
1:29.942
12
20.
Nabil Jeffri
Arden International
1:30.254
11
21.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Campos Racing
1:30.304
10
22.
Philo Paz Armand
Trident
1:30.609
13