Fabio Leimer takes Abu Dhabi pole
Racing Engineering driver quickest in 2011 GP2 Final
Fabio Leimer fought long and hard today to grab pole position in the final stages of an ultimately extremely close qualifying session. Already fast in this morning’s free practice session, the Swiss from Racing Engineering set his best laptime of 1:49.363 with five minutes left on the clock after recovering from a spin at Turn 19 earlier in the session.
Dani Clos at Rapax was the first one to top the timesheet when the pitlane opened, but Arden’s Josef Kral wasted no time in breaking under the 1m50s barrier and, half a second clear of his nearest rival. The Czech driver’s laptime remained unbeaten for most of the session leaving the rest of the field busy to try and close the gap. Leimer and Clos were next on the list of drivers under 1m50s, the Spaniard ending a mere 0.02s behind Kral.
Ten minutes into the session, Leimer put his head down and pushed even harder but he spun at Turn 19 momentarily ending his hopes for pole. At the mid-way point Kral was still solidly hanging on to P1 ahead of Clos, Luiz Razia, Jolyon Palmer, Kevin Ceccon and Leimer. As most of the field came back into the pits, the top nineteen drivers were running within 1s.
Clos was the first back on track in the hopes of a clear track, but on his flying lap the Spaniard lost time in traffic of those on their outlap. Esteban Gutierrez was also on the hunt and found a clear lap. However, it was not enough and this morning’s fastest man sat in P6. With only five minutes left on the clock, Leimer finally found the extra pace and the needed clear lap to set the quickest laptime and take pole. Clos’ efforts put him in P2 edging out Kral to P3. At that precise moment Gutierrez stopped on the track with technical gremlins. The session was red flagged with only 3 minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock. When the session restarted, it was then too late for anyone to beat Leimer.
Behind the top three Razia secured a second row start ahead of Palmer, Max Chilton, Kevin Ceccon, Gutierrez, Tom Dillmann and Stefano Coletti.