Gimme five, Pastor! Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA) clinched his fifth pole position of the season after a session held in particularly difficult conditions. The Venezuelan will be joined on the front row for this afternoon's race by ...
Gimme five, Pastor!
Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA) clinched his fifth pole position of the season after a session held in particularly difficult conditions. The Venezuelan will be joined on the front row for this afternoon's race by Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport).
The early morning fog had just about cleared as the session got underway. Early on, Ben Hanley (Cram Competition) was caught out by the wet track, crashing out on his out lap. Shortly before the halfway stage, Alvaro Barba (Jenzer Motorsport) suffered a similar fate to Hanley, also losing control of his car. At the front, the times were improving lap by lap: Robbie Kerr (KTR) was the quickest at this point.
Whilst Gregory Franchi (Prema Power Team) took an unexpected detour across the grass, Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) began to challenge the domination of Kerr. James Rossiter (Pons Racing) then span, but he was able to get away again.
The session was then red-flagged with five minutes left to allow the marshals to clear Barba's car from the track. At this stage, the top 5 featured Kerr, Garcia, Aleshin, McIntosh and Martinez, in that order.
When qualifying resumed, the times continued to drop until the session was brought to a close. Andy Soucek (Inerwetten.com) snatched the best time from Robbie Kerr, but there was still one final lap for all the contenders for pole position! Soucek then went into a spin on his final attempt, leaving Mikhail Aleshin to clinch the group's best time. Marcos Martinez (Eurointernational) took everyone by surprise to steal the second spot at the death. Soucek remained in third just ahead of Kerr, who didn't improve his time. Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport) minimized the damage by taking fifth spot.
Carlos Iaconelli (Comtec Racing) was the first to be caught out by the tricky track conditions, spinning just in front of Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering). Midway through the session, Adrian Zaugg (Carlin Motorsport) also lost control, but he was able to get away again.
At this point, Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA) moved into the lead with a lap of 2'04''663, already quicker than the time set by Aleshin. But the final qualifying standings were far from decided, as proved by Steven Kane (Epsilon Euskadi).
With six minutes left, Pastor Maldonado, Alvaro Parente and Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing) occupied the top three places. They were then joined at the top by Zaugg.
In the closing minutes of the session, Maldonado was in a class apart. The Venezuelan repeatedly improved his best time to clinch his fifth pole position of the season with ease. Close to 9/10ths back, Parente finished just ahead of Christian Montanari (Prema Power Team), who at last had a successful qualifying session! Behind Danielsson, the Epsilon Euskadi drivers were bunched together in 5th and 6th positions, Steven Kane finishing ahead of Davide Valsecchi. Zaugg had to content himself with a spot on the 7th row, after making a hash of his final lap.
Pastor Maldonado: "We switched back to the Spa setup and it worked like a dream! I think I could have dipped under the two-minute mark if I hadn't made an error in the chicane. The situation is perfect for the championship."
Mikhail Aleshin: "The car wasn't right at the start of the session. I came in so that the team could make a few adjustments. After the red flag period, I pushed very hard."