American racer Josef Newgarden has qualified in a solid 12th place for the first ever GP3 race.

Slippery conditions from overnight rain, combined with an early morning start, meant a low track temperature on a drying surface - making for tough conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya. For Newgarden, this was compounded after problems with the car on Friday meant he had turned relatively few laps in the free practice session.

However in Saturday morning's qualifying session, Newgarden looked strong from the beginning. As the track dried and the lap times fell, the 19 year old American was in second position with just minutes to go. On his final lap, Newgarden went faster than anyone else in the first sector, and looked to be in a commanding position; however a slight mistake in the latter half of the lap just edged him out of contention. With the circuit increasing in grip all the time, Newgarden was bumped down the order by the cars that followed him over the line, finally landing him in a solid 12th position. Team mates Dean Smith and Lucas Foresti finished sixth and 14th respectively.

Newgarden commented: "I'm disappointed with where we ended up today -- we were super quick and could have taken at least a top three result, which is frustrating. Because the track was improving so much, it was vital to get my last lap correct, and unfortunately I made a mistake and we were a bit unlucky with traffic. Every other car set their fastest time on the last lap, and I know had we done this, we'd have jumped up the timing sheets.

"It's a good learning experience for me though, and I just need to be able to apply that in the future. We've got a quick car this weekend, and I'm looking forward to the race this afternoon."

Carlin's Racing Director, Trevor Carlin, added, "Qualifying was a bit of an unknown quantity for all the teams this morning and the track conditions only added to that. I'm very impressed by the way all three drivers handled themselves; they did a great job and absolutely no damage to the cars, while other drivers went off track. We've got all three cars in the top half of the grid, which is a great start to the season and all three of the drivers have a lot of potential ahead of the two races this weekend."

The first race of the season is scheduled for 17.20 on Saturday afternoon, with the second race on Sunday 9 May at 09.25.

-source: j newgarden