Spa: Friday qualifying report

Bruni bolts to Belgian belter Gimmi Bruni started his first race weekend with the Durango team in excellent fashion by setting pole position for tomorrow's GP2 series race at Spa-Francorchamps. In a qualifying session that was affected by heavy...

Bruni bolts to Belgian belter

Gimmi Bruni started his first race weekend with the Durango team in excellent fashion by setting pole position for tomorrow's GP2 series race at Spa-Francorchamps. In a qualifying session that was affected by heavy rain and three red flag periods, Gimmi timed his run to perfection to set a pole lap of 2:14.273 ahead of Alex Prémat and Nicolas Lapierre. Championship contenders Heikki Kovalainen and Nico Rosberg had contrasting fortunes. Heikki set the fourth quickest lap, while Nico could only muster the 11th fastest time before crashing on the exit of Eau Rouge.

Qualifying Report. The Belgian circuit was drenched following an hour-long downpour which had totally washed out the second F1 Free Practice session. But as the rain abated, the whole of the GP2 series took to the track to try and establish not only a dry line, but a base laptime from which to mount a challenge for pole. Six different drivers headed the time sheets with the laptimes tumbling around them, as Adam Carroll, Neel Jani, Nelson Piquet Jr, Alex, Nico and then Gimmi fought over tenths of a second.

The rain started to fall again over the circuit, and it was Gimmi who was in the ascendancy. Alex had been relegated to second by the Italian, but Nicolas had leapt to third. With track conditions worsening by the second, Nicolas lost control on the exit of Eau Rouge, missing the barriers but stalling mid track. The red flags came out as the Marshals removed his car.

Nine minutes remained on the clock, and there was a mad dash to get back onto the track when the pit lane re-opened. Sector times looked to be about half a second off optimum in these new conditions, but Adam set his quickest first sector of the session. His charge was halted by Nico's accident. The German was not as fortunate as Nicolas, and his ART Grand Prix car slammed into the tyre barrier. Nico was unhurt, and the field returned to the pits, awaiting one final push.

Less than five minutes now remained, and everyone was out on track looking for tenths of a second. Hiroki Yoshimoto improved to seventh, Jose Maria Lopez improved to tenth, and Nelson, having set one of the fastest first sectors, then set the quickest second sector of all. It would come to nothing however, as Giorgio Pantano spun in the final sector, bringing out the red flags and the end of the session.

Gimmi Bruni ­ Durango.2:14.273
"I just drove. The car was perfect since this morning, and I wanted to see where we were so I just took it easy. I took a little bit more risk this afternoon and the car was perfect. If you go back last year to F1, I did one of the best qualifying ever for Minardi here, ahead of the Jordans, one of the BARs and a Toyota, so obviously I like this circuit."

Alex Prémat ­ ART Grand Prix. +0.388
"I really enjoyed it but it was a really hard session because it was really raining a lot ­ when you are following another guy you can't see anything on the track or how the corner goes. This was the first time for me in the GP2 series in weather like this, and I think this is a really good circuit to show the talent of the drivers ­ maybe even more in the wet!"

Nicolas Lapierre ­ Arden International. +0.435
"It was quite difficult ­ there was no aquaplaning, which was good, but there was still a lot of rain. The wet tyres from Bridgestone are really fantastic though - compared to everything I've driven before, they are much better. It was slippery, of course, but it wasn't too bad."

-gp2-

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Nelson Piquet , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Adam Carroll , Neel Jani , Nicolas Lapierre , Hiroki Yoshimoto , Jose Maria Lopez
Teams ART Grand Prix , Arden International