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GP2 - Barcelona, Qual.: Leclerc flies to Barcelona pole

Monegasque steals top spot in final minute


12 May 2017 - 17h00, by Olivier Ferret 

Charles Leclerc has stolen pole position for tomorrow’s feature race at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, dramatically grabbing the top spot in the last minute after a late red flag to deny Luca Ghiotto, who thought he had timed his run perfectly to finish just before the stop, and Nyck De Vries, who claimed his second top three qualifying position in a row.

The session opened once again to gloriously sunny conditions, with the entire grid except for the PREMA Racing pair of Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco heading straight out on track to take advantage. As the red cars switched their engines off their rivals pushed hard, with Jordan King the first driver to set a competitive time, just ahead of De Vries.

The PREMA pair finally restarted their engines and slid out of the pits at the 7 minute mark, just as their rivals were returning, handing them an entirely clear track as they hit their marks for their quick laps. The Italian was slightly faster than his teammate for the first 2 sectors but a mistake in the final complex pushed him down to P8, while Leclerc had a solid banker lap for P2.

They pitted as many of their rivals hit the track, with De Vries pushing hard for P1 on his fast lap before returning as the RUSSIAN TIME teammates hit the circuit: Ghiotto nailed his run and grabbed the top spot as Artem Markelov was distracted when his fire extinguisher let go, and when Nabil Jeffri rolled to a halt the red flags emerged, with just 6 minutes remaining.

It looked unlikely that the remainder of the field would have time to go quicker, but Leclerc had the bit between his teeth: Alexander Albon pushed up to P4 as Leclerc went purple in sectors 2 and 3 to steal the top spot as the chequered flag emerged. Behind the top 3 King, Albon, Oliver Rowland, Norman Nato and Fuoco were all well within a second of pole, which covered 14 drivers, suggesting that we can expect the usual fireworks in tomorrow afternoon’s feature race.

Classification

1. - Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing - 1:29.285 - 7 laps
2. - Luca Ghiotto - RUSSIAN TIME - 1:29.478 - 10
3. - Nyck De Vries - Rapax - 1:29.550 - 10
4. - Jordan King - MP Motorsport - 1:29.585 - 9
5. - Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix - 1:29.732 - 10
6. - Oliver Rowland - DAMS - 1:29.744 - 9
7. - Norman Nato - Pertamina Arden - 1:29.790 - 7
8. - Antonio Fuoco - PREMA Racing - 1:29.834 - 8
9. - Nicholas Latifi - DAMS - 1:29.885 - 9
10. - Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix Trident - 1:29.975 - 9
11. - Louis Delétraz - Racing Engineering - 1:30.046 - 10
12. - Ralph Boschung - Campos Racing - 1:30.065 - 10
13. - Artem Markelov - RUSSIAN TIME - 1:30.177 - 8
14. - Sergio Sette Camara - MP Motorsport - 1:30.231 - 10
15. - Roberto Merhi - Campos Racing - 1:30.389 - 8
16. - Johnny Cecotto - Rapax - 1:30.441 - 9
17. - Sean Gelael - Pertamina Arden - 1:30.772 - 9
18. - Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering - 1:30.814 - 9
19. - Sergio Canamasas - Trident - 1:31.148 - 9
20. - Nabil Jeffri - Trident - 1:32.303 - 6



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