Abu Dhabi GP3: Albon closes points gap to Leclerc with pole

Alexander Albon clinched pole position for the final round of the GP3 Series in Abu Dhabi, closing the gap to points-leading ART teammate Charles Leclerc in the process.

Abu Dhabi GP3: Albon closes points gap to Leclerc with pole

It was McLaren protege Nyck de Vries that set the pace after the first runs, the Dutchman the only driver able to break the 1m56s barrier initially with a time of 1m55.991s, enough to put him four tenths clear of Jake Dennis.

The Arden driver was one of the first to head out on track on his second set of supersoft tyres in the closing stages of the session, Dennis provisionally claiming pole with a 1m55.514s.

His reign at the head of the timesheets was short-lived, however, as practice pacesetter Albon lowered the bar to a 1m55.274s, before diving into the pits with a few minutes still left on the clock.

Dennis and others attempted one more hot lap to depose the Anglo-Thai driver, and while some set personal best first sectors, nobody could sustain the pace required to threaten Albon for a whole lap because of tyre degradation.

It means Albon, taking the four point bonus for pole, closes to within 25 points of Leclerc in the race for the title. Antonio Fuoco, who came into qualifying needing pole to keep his slender hopes alive, is now eliminated from contention.

Dennis led an Arden two-three as Jack Aitken went third-quickest, 0.090s slower than his teammate, with ART's de Vries ending up fourth a mere 0.025s further back.

Leclerc lines up fifth after lapping 0.386s slower than teammate Albon, followed by lead DAMS runner Santino Ferrucci, Jenzer's Arjun Maini and Kevin Jorg in the second DAMS machine.

Steijn Schothorst (Campos) and Nirei Fukuzumi (ART Grand Prix) completed the top 10, with Fuoco following closely behind in 11th.

The remaining DAMS car of Jake Hughes was condemned to 20th on the grid after his team sent him out for his last run with a fan still attached to his sidepod, while Alessio Lorandi (Jenzer) failed to set a lap at all and will start 22nd and last.

Qualifying results:

ClaDriverTeamTimeGap
1  Alexander Albon   ART Grand Prix 1'55.274  
2  Jake Dennis   Arden International 1'55.514 0.240
3  Jack Aitken   Arden International 1'55.604 0.330
4  Nyck de Vries   ART Grand Prix 1'55.629 0.355
5  Charles Leclerc   ART Grand Prix 1'55.660 0.386
6  Santino Ferrucci   DAMS 1'55.678 0.404
7  Arjun Maini   Jenzer Motorsport 1'55.683 0.409
8  Kevin Joerg   DAMS 1'55.892 0.618
9  Steijn Schothorst   Campos Racing 1'55.981 0.707
10   Nirei Fukuzumi   ART Grand Prix 1'56.094 0.820
11  Antonio Fuoco   Trident 1'56.145 0.871
12  Artur Janosz   Trident 1'56.154 0.880
13  Alex Palou   Campos Racing 1'56.155 0.881
14  Matthew Parry   Koiranen GP 1'56.256 0.982
15  Giuliano Alesi   Trident 1'56.361 1.087
16  Konstantin Tereshchenko   Campos Racing 1'56.563 1.289
17  Sandy Stuvik   Trident 1'56.570 1.296
18  Tatiana Calderon   Arden International 1'56.729 1.455
19  Akash Nandy   Jenzer Motorsport 1'56.732 1.458
20  Jake Hughes   DAMS 1'56.995 1.721
21  Matevos Isaakyan   Koiranen GP 1'57.513 2.239
22  Alessio Lorandi   Jenzer Motorsport    
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