MW Arden’s Lewis Williamson pipped his fellow countryman Adrian Quaife-Hobbs to take his first GP3 Series pole position in a frantic qualifying session at the Valencia Street Circuit today. The Manor driver looked like taking the team’s first pole in the Series, but was knocked off the top spot in the final minutes of the session.
Once again the thirty young GP3 drivers had to content with extremely hot conditions as they battled it out for a front row race start. Williamson was first to set a competitive time around the 5.419 km track with Quaife-Hobbs a fraction behind in second spot, but a few minutes into the session and Barcelona’s poleman Mitch Evans took control of the timesheet once again. Also close to the New Zealander’s time were Lotus ART’s Valtteri Bottas, Tech 1 Racing’s Aaro Vainio, Addax Team’s Dean Smith and his teammate Tom Dillmann.
Midway through qualifying Quaife-Hobbs was a mere 0.113 seconds behind Evans, but the Brit found himself bogged down in traffic and unable to complete a clean lap, until with just under ten minutes left in the session he found the space he needed and planted his Manor car at the top of the timesheet with a 1:58.881 lap. Meanwhile, Evans was in the pits with mechanical gremlins and was unable to challenge the Brit. With the clock counting down the final minutes of the session, Quaife-Hobbs looked like he had done enough to keep his top spot, but Williamson had other ideas, and the Scot set his 1:58.693 pole time bumping the Manor driver into second. Soon after, Smith squeezed himself onto the front row.
With two minutes remaining, Evans made it back out on track but couldn’t do anything about the British trio and had to settle for fourth. Vainio was fifth. Despite a clash earlier on the session with Gabby Chaves, Status Grand Prix’s Alexander Sims qualified in sixth ahead of Dillmann, Chaves and the Lotus ART duo of Bottas and Calado. With the top ten drivers covered by just 0.4 seconds, and the top twenty-one with a second, Race 1 later this afternoon promises to be action packed.
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