De Marco grabs pole for Race One
Nicola De Marco took pole position for the first race of the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship in Brno tomorrow (Saturday 20 June).
Mikhail Aleshin held the top spot in the early part of the session, before Edoardo Piscopo took over. De Marco also held the provisional pole for a brief time before a late flurry of changes in the final 15 minutes. Tobias Hegewald and Carlos Iaconelli held the top two spots at one stage, but both dropped down the order as De Marco returned to take pole in the closing stages.
Mirko Bortolotti guided his car to second on the grid to complete an Italian 1-2, whilst Finnish driver Henri Karjalainen completed the top three after making impressive progress throughout the day. After dominating the opening two practice sessions, Mikhail Aleshin will have been disappointed to have dropped to fourth as the chequered flag fell. Philipp Eng and Edoardo Piscopo rounded out the top six, with Carlos Iaconelli seventh and Tobias Hegewald eighth – still within one second of De Marco’s pole time.
Andy Soucek and Robert Wickens rounded out the top ten. Championship leader Wickens was unable to threaten the ultimate pace setters, but he will expect to fight for points during tomorrow's 22-lap race.
The session had to be red flagged halfway through following spins for Jens Höing and Jason Moore, and when Henry Surtees went off into the gravel with two minutes remaining on the clock, the red flag brought qualifying to a close. Armaan Ebrahim, Natacha Gachnang and Alex Brundle were others that fell foul of the conditions - all three endured spins during the session.
Rain continued to fall throughout qualifying, though not as heavily as during today's free practice sessions.
Nicola De Marco said: “I’m very happy, and I really enjoyed the wet conditions. I've worked very hard to get this place, especially after Valencia, so I'm really happy to have come away with such a strong result. I hope to have a good race tomorrow, and then another good qualifying and race on Sunday. I'm not sure whether I should be hoping for rain or not!”
Mirko Bortolotti said: “This is my first time here, so I struggled a bit early on. I am happy with second anyway because I didn't think after the second session I could be starting on the front row. There is still a long way to go in the season, and there are 25 drivers, so I have 24 rivals not just one. The competition is high, so I'm just happy to start on the front row and I'm looking forward to the race.”
Henri Karjalainen said: “I'm very happy with my position, especially because in Valencia my best in qualifying was 19th. Coming into Brno I knew I had to concentrate more on qualifying and post good laps, and I am very happy that it worked. I was certainly pushing hard, and we also made some improvements to the car which made it feel really good. I knew in the rain I could finish anywhere, so I just pushed hard and I'm very happy to be third.”
1. Nicola De Marco, 2:03.484s
2. Mirko Bortolotti, +0.167s
3. Henri Karjalainen, +0.183s
4. Mikhail Aleshin, +0.371s
5. Philipp Eng, +0.408s
6. Edoardo Piscopo, +0.767s
7. Carlos Iaconelli, +0.883s
8. Tobias Hegewald, +0.905s
9. Andy Soucek, +1.236s
10. Robert Wickens, +1.625s