Nancy Knapp Schilke, GP2 correspondent
Giedo van der Garde was the surprise winner of the coveted feature race pole position as the GP2 Series remained in Bahrain for their third round on the 2012 calendar. The ladder series for Formula One is contesting a back-to-back weekend on the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Second fastest was series points leader Davide Valsecchi followed by Fabio Leimer.
Midway through today’s qualifying, van der Garde was sitting 20th on the grid but the Dutchman for the Caterham Racing team found a clean lap and flew around the 5.412 km circuit with a 1:42.451 to steal the pole out of the hands of Valsecchi by just over one-tenth of a second.
“We were hoping for better results last weekend and we had to work hard for this week. I am very pleased with today’s result because the team is very young and they need some time to work on some things and definitely work harder than the other teams. They took me this year because I have a lot of experience and I think today we showed that we can do it. I’m very happy with the results and for the team,” said van der Garde.
The GP2 racers were trading positions during the session and toward the end, the traffic played a part in the outcome, which saw the DAMS driver, Valsecchi enter the pitlane before the checkered flag as he knew he could not match or better the Dutchman’s time. The Italian knew that it would be a short turnaround before the feature race in the late afternoon, and knew that his best lap time of 1:42.596 would place him on the front row.
“We’re very happy to be on the first row. We proved again that we’re competitive and able to fight for pole. It’s a really good feeling. Van der Garde seemed a bit better today so he deserved pole today, but the race is another story so we will see how it’ll go,” said Valsecchi.
Racing Engineering’s Leimer settled for third with a 1:42.619, and he said: “Actually I am very happy. I lost quite a bit of time in the first corner. I was braking way too early. But at the end, I can be happy but it’s still not enough to be P1. I was P5 in Malaysia, P4 last week and now P3. It’s getting better and better. Next time I hope to be P2 and then P1! But today, I will be able to start from the inside and it will be better. It’s important to do a good start and then control the race. I hope I can get my first podium of the season.”