Webb snatches top time in Spa qualifying

Cooper Tires British F3 title hopeful Oli Webb stole top spot in qualifying today at Spa-Francorchamps, the 18-year-old giving his final timed lap of the Belgian Grand Prix circuit everything to unseat championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne.

Spa debutant Webb's 2m 14.476s tour was exactly two-hundredths quicker than Vergne's ultimate best, and secures for the Mancunian Fortec-Mercedes pilot the pole for tomorrow's 40-minute championship round. Vergne, who set the pace in his Volkswagen-powered Carlin car early on and who was one of only four drivers to break the 2m 15s barrier, will start this afternoon's opening Spa race from P1. Both Webb and Vergne went under last year's Spa pole time, set by Daniel Ricciardo.

"It was a really do-or-die lap," said Webb. "It wasn't elegant in any way -- I just knew that I had to go for it." Fortec's senior engineer Mick Kouros was fulsome in his praise: "It was a mega lap. What Oli is showing is that he can come to a circuit which is new to him and learn it fast. It's a great talent and one which marks him as one to watch for the future." Fortec's joy was doubled by Rockingham race winner Daniel McKenzie setting third-best time.

Hitech's Gabriel Dias, who won the National class at Spa last year, went fourth quickest, just ahead of Thursday testing pacesetter James Calado. Spaniard Daniel Juncadella was the quickest of the Invitation class runners in sixth for Prema Powerteam.

James Cole, who missed yesterday's second test session with mechanical dramas, beat his T-Sport team-mate Menasheh Idafar to the best National class time in the closing minutes of qualifying.

-source: bf3