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Grosjean powers to Istanbul pole
Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean has picked up where he left off in the GP2 Asia Series by claiming the first pole position for this year's main Series, ahead of Sam Bird and Luca Filippi, this afternoon at the Istanbul Park circuit.

The Frenchman's best lap of 1:34.398 was the target for the final 20 minutes of the session, and although Filippi went close and then Bird closer still to be within a tenth of pole, three red flag periods broke the session up sufficiently for Grosjean to hold on for the first points of the season.

Qualifying opened under dry but still cold conditions, with Fabio Leimer, Dani Clos, Grosjean and Jules Bianchi swapping best times, and Bird close but held up by traffic. Grosjean put himself on the top of the timesheets just prior to Davide Valsecchi stopping on the circuit and then rolling backwards, forcing a red flag stop for the field.

Bird and Filippi were among the first drivers back on track, and made good use of the space: the Italian ran just three tenths short of Grosjean's target with Bird splitting the pair just seconds later, but when Mikhail Aleshin hit the wall hard at the end of the back straight there was no option but to bring out the red flags once again.

When the track cleared the session got under way once more, but the cool temperatures meant there was little more to be gained and, when Michael Herck replayed Aleshin's incident in the final minute, the red re-emerged and the session was closed. Lining up on tomorrow's grid behind the top three are Bianchi, Clos, Luiz Razia, Charles Pic and Valsecchi: with rain now expected to hold off tomorrow, the opening round of the 2011 calendar promises fireworks.

Istanbul – Qualifying session

Pos Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:34.398 11
2. Sam Bird iSport International 1:34.483 13
3. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:34.709 11
4. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:34.784 12
5. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:34.797 12
6. Luiz Razi Team AirAsia 1:34.888 11
7. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:34.954 13
8. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:34.975 13
9. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:34.981 11
10. Josef Kral Arden International 1:35.050 11
11. Max Chilton Carlin 1:35.110 11
12. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:35.140 11
13. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:35.159 12
14. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:35.164 13
15. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:35.182 11
16. Johnny Cecotto Jr Ocean Racing Technology 1:35.360 11
17. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:35.369 14
18. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:35.375 13
19. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:35.428 13
20. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:35.545 12
21. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:35.681 12
22. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:35.825 12
23. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1:35.873 7
24. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:35.973 13
25. Julian Leal Rapax 1:36.168 11
26. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:36.187 12
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