Parente on pole in Spa Francorchamps
Alvaro Parente has claimed the first pole position for Ocean Racing Technology with a stunning lap just at the close of this afternoon's qualifying session to slot onto the top spot by less than a tenth from Lucas di Grassi and Nico Hülkenberg.
The Portuguese driver set a time of 1:54.970 to take tomorrow's pole position with a stunning lap which was timed to perfection, putting himself on a clear track as his rivals tripped over themselves on the last lap to give Parente his first GP2 pole.
The session opened under bright conditions and with a dry track, the opposite of this morning's free practice, and the pace was soon frantic on track as the field looked to claim an early advantage. Di Grassi, Sergio Perez and Hülkenberg set the early running until Davide Rigon beached himself after a spin at the Bus Stop, and the red flags were soon out so the marshals could retrieve the Italian.
Karun Chandhok set the fastest lap just after the session was restarted, but Hülkenberg was on a mission: he reclaimed the top spot a few minutes later, with di Grassi immediately shaded his rival's lap to put himself in a prime position for pole.
Title challenger Vitaly Petrov finally claimed a strong lap time but was still two tenths off the pace, and the front runners were soon into the pits for fresh tires and a final run at the prize with just five minutes left: Petrov and Hülkenberg caught traffic as Parente set his best time and, with one minute to go, Roldan Rodriguez stopped on track to bring the session to an early close.
Behind the top three Diego Nunes had his best qualifying session to finish fourth, just ahead of Petrov, Chandhok, Perez and Rodriguez, who were all within three tenths of pole. With 17 drivers within a second of the top spot, the battle at the start of tomorrow's race one promises to be the most intense fight so far this season.
||Lucas di Grassi
||Giedo van der Garde