Local driver heads Group A for top spot

 

Charles Leclerc has delighted his local fans by grabbing provisional pole in a dramatic split qualifying session this afternoon at the Grand Prix de Monaco, leading the way in Group A ahead of Oliver Rowland before watching Group B from the pits as Alexander Albon headed the second group but missed the Monegasque’s time by just one hundredth of a second.

 

The sun emerged between free practice and qualifying, and with it the track temperatures increased to 40˚ ahead of the start of Group A’s 16 minute session, with all of the odd-numbered cars heading straight out on track. Leclerc made the first competitive time at the 4 minute mark before being usurped by Sergio Canamasas and Nobuharu Matsushita, but with 2 minutes remaining the local driver reclaimed the top spot with a time of 1:19.309, ahead of Rowland and Matsushita.

 

A big lock up at Ste Devote next time through put the brakes on any improvement on his last lap, but with Matsushita jumping the kerb out of the Swimming Pool complex and finding the wall the session was over for everyone just before the clock wound down to zero.

 

The even-numbered drivers in Group B were out mere minutes later, and they had the advantage of a target: Sergio Sette Camara set the first competitive time before being pushed off P1 by Artem Markelov and then Albon, with the Thai driver improving on his own best lap with 3 minutes remaining for a time of 1:19.321. Markelov and Albon both pushed hard on their final lap, setting the fastest first and second sectors respectively, but traffic meant that they were unable to improve on their times, with Norman Nato finishing third behind them in the second group.

 

With pole going to the fastest driver over both groups, Leclerc had done enough to hold off his GP3 rival for his third pole position in a row ahead of Albon, Rowland and Markelov, with the grid formed of the 2 groups lining up side by side, with Nyck De Vries to lose 3 places from his Barcelona sprint race penalty for tomorrow’s feature race.

 

Provisional Qualifying Classification  

 

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Charles Leclerc PREMA Racing 1:19.309 10
2. Oliver Rowland DAMS 1:19.541 9
3. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:19.922 10
4. Jordan King MP Motorsport 1:20.058 10
5. Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 1:20.089 9
6. Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1:20.272 11
7. Johnny Cecotto Rapax 1:20.413 11
8. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:20.415 11
9. Louis Delétraz Racing Engineering 1:21.592 12
10. Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 1:21.664 10

 

  Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Alexandre Albon ART Grand Prix 1:19.321 11
2. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1:19.647 10
3. Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1:10.803 8
4. Nyck De Vries Rapax 1:19.814 9
5. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1:20.042 9
6. Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1:20.282 11
7. Antonio Fuoco PREMA Racing 1:20.593 11
8. Robert Visoiu Campos Racing 1:20.867 10
9. Nabil Jeffri Trident 1:21.239 11
10. Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1:21.271 11