The scorching heat of Valencia drew a few first's this afternoon in GP3 qualifying. The first pole position for American Conor Daly and the first time he sat out the last minutes of qualifying watching the field try to knock him off the top and the first time that GP3 was not part of a Formula One weekend.
He knew that with seven minutes to go he would have time for a pit stop for his last set of new tires and maybe two flying laps. The last gasp plan became complicated when the FIA called him to a discretionary weight check as soon as he entered the pit lane. Daly was on the radio to his engineer irritated that he was blocked on his best lap and inquiring as to whether he had time to get a full run on his last set of tires.
He exited the pits with 4:50 left in the session and in sixth place on the time charts. After a warm up lap he did one flying lap and jumped straight to the top of the charts. Immediately the session was red flagged because of an accident with 1:50 left.
Conor decided that there was no point in using his tires for some more laps and stood watching for the final minutes as the whole field tried to knock him off the pole. It wasn't to be and Daly was congratulated by his delighted team after securing his first GP3 pole position.
"I am so stoked to be on the pole," said Daly. "So much happened in the 30 minutes...I was blocked...I did a good lap and then had to sit and watch everyone else finish the session. I didn't think anyone could go any faster and I was hoping that I was right. This feel's good."
For the first time this season, both GP3 races will be on the same day, Sunday June 16th. Daly lies fourth in the championship having finished 3rd and 5th in the opening two rounds in Barcelona, Spain, May 11th-12th.
Daly drives for the French based ART Grand Prix team, which is regarded as one of Europe's best junior teams. Past drivers to have gone through ART include current Formula One drivers such as; Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Jules Bianchi and Paul DiResta.