Nakajima claims first pole in Valencia
Kazuki Nakajima has taken his first ever GP2 pole position in qualifying today at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, just pipping Timo Glock and Luca Filippi in a session which saw the top three separated by just a tenth of a second.
The Japanese driver's lap of 1:19.312 claimed the top spot in a torrid session which saw the timesheets ticking over constantly in the early part of the session, with the drivers mostly unable to match the early intensity in the closing stages of the session.
Title contender Lucas di Grassi set the early running despite a scare when Mike Conway ran wide in front of the Brazilian, and held onto the top spot when the red flags were brought out as a result of Andi Zuber stopping on the front straight as the marshals swarmed on track to retrieve the stricken car.
With the track quickly clear the session could recommence, and the local drivers were soon squabbling among themselves for home honors: Borja Garcia was on top ahead of countrymen Andy Soucek, Marcos Martinez and Roldan Rodriguez, but the main fight was about to break out: ten minutes into the session the top spot was claimed by Filippi, Nicolas Lapierre, Xandi Negrao, Glock and then Nakajima in about the same time it takes to read their names, but the Japanese driver's time was untouchable for the remainder of the session.
As a result of the action di Grassi was well down the timesheets and in dire need of improvement if he was to get on terms with title rival Glock: after changing tires midway through the session the Brazilian dragged himself up to seventh position, but the German was still circulating at close to pole claiming times despite flatspotting his new left front tire.
As the session was coming to a close Martinez spun his car at the final corner, beaching himself on the edge of the track and bringing out local yellow flags: he eventually got away again after receiving a helping hand from the marshals, but the damage was done and no one could improve their times on the final lap.
Rounding out the top eight behind the Filippi were Lapierre, Negrao, Rodriguez, di Grassi and Vitaly Petrov, and as ever the times were tight: 17 drivers were within a second of pole on the tight and twisty circuit.