Philipp Eng seals pole in frantic second qualifying
Philipp Eng sealed his second pole of the year with a blistering effort in the second qualifying session in Marrakech this evening.
It proved a frantic qualifying session, with the lead changing hand nine times, but Eng's late effort was enough to take pole. Dean Stoneman and Johan Jokinen rounded out the top three.
The session got underway in bizarre circumstances when Lukoil-backed Sergey Afanasiev hit a cat on his out lap. The session was briefly red flagged but the cars were soon back on track and it was Lithuanian Kazim Vasiliauskas setting the early pace.
Johan Jokinen, Philipp Eng, Jolyon Palmer and Dean Stoneman all enjoyed spells at the top of the timesheets by the midway stage, before the entire field pitted for fresh rubber.
Ricardo Teixeira, Jack Clarke and Plamen Kralev all recovered from separate spins, but fortunately the circuit stayed under green flag conditions for the all important final ten minutes.
Eng returned to the top and held provisional pole for just a few seconds before Will Bratt took his turn at the summit of the times. Eng responded immediately by setting an electrifying pace with the three fastest sectors of the weekend, including a middle sector that was more than half a second faster than any other driver.
The Austrian's time seemed unbeatable and it proved to be so although Dean Stoneman was able to get within 0.533s in the final minutes. Jokinen bounced back well after his accident in race one to set the third fastest time in qualifying two, beating Will Bratt by just 0.017s at the finish.
Vasiliauskas made a welcome return to the top five as the 19-year-old pipped Romanian Mihai Marinescu. Jack Clarke and Nicola De Marco made contact in race one, sending them both into the barriers and out of the contest, and the duo will be locked together again on row four tomorrow. Jolyon Palmer will start ninth ahead of the impressive Kelvin Snoeks, who is currently enjoying the best weekend of his career.
It was a busy time for the F2 mechanics following a chaotic opening race this morning, and it is worth mentioning that the team did a great job in repairing all of the cars ahead of qualifying. FIA President Jean Todt also took time out to pay a visit to the Formula Two paddock as MotorSport Vision Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer gave the Frenchman a guided tour of the operation.