Kari grabs the honors in free practice

Niko Kari
Niko Kari

Niko Kari has laid down a marker for his rivals for the final round of the 2017 season by claiming the top spot on his final lap of the Yas Marina Circuit in this morning’s free practice session, biding his time before claiming the honors when his rivals had no chance to usurp him for a laptime that was less than a tenth faster than Dorian Boccolacci and Nirei Fukuzumi.

The Finn’s best time of 1:55.796 after the checkered flag had dropped was the quickest of a string of fast laps that came in the final minutes of a session which saw times tumbling throughout but was otherwise quiet, with no major off-track drama given the short gap before this afternoon’s qualifying session.

The track opened to warm and sunny conditions, with a number of drivers spending time on the top of the timesheets: Fukuzumi was the first person under the 2 minute mark with Kari, Dan Ticktum and Leonardo Pulcini swapping P1 between them until Boccolacci grabbed the top spot just before the 20 minute mark and held on until late into the session as everyone worked on their race simulations.

With 5 minutes remaining everyone turned up the wick once more: Anthoine Hubert picked up the pace ahead of a string of drivers swapping the top spot between them, with Giuliano Alesi, Kevin Joerg, George Russell, Kari and Fukuzumi rotating through before Boccolacci reclaimed P1 with 2 minutes remaining. Ticktum went purple in sector 1, soon overtaken by Boccolacci, and it looked like the Frenchman had done enough as he slowed in the 2nd sector only to hear that Kari had claimed P1, leaving him no time to improve as he rolled to the flag.

Behind the top 3 Ticktum, Russell, Hubert, Raoul Hyman, Pulcini and Arjun Maini were among the 14 drivers within a second of the top spot, promising fireworks in this afternoon’s qualifying session in just a few hours’ time.

Provisional Qualifying Classification

Pos.

Driver

Team

Laptime

Laps

1.

Niko KARI

Arden International

1:55.796

19

2.

Dorian BOCCOLACCI

Trident

1:55.865

18

3.

Nirei FUKUZUMI

ART Grand Prix

1:55.886

18

4.

Daniel TICKTUM

DAMS

1:56.006

16

5.

George RUSSELL

ART Grand Prix

1:56.071

18

6.

Anthoine HUBERT

ART Grand Prix

1:56.159

18

7.

Raoul HYMAN

Campos Racing

1:56.225

16

8.

Leonardo PULCINI

Arden International

1:56.323

19

9.

Arjun MAINI

Jenzer Motorsport

1:56.558

18

10.

Steijn SCHOTHORST

Arden International

1:56.607

19

11.

Marcos SIEBERT

Campos Racing

1:56.608

17

12.

Kevin JOERG

Trident

1:56.612

17

13.

Giuliano ALESI

Trident

1:56.640

17

14.

Jack AITKEN

ART Grand Prix

1:56.641

18

15.

Ryan TVETER

Trident

1:57.068

16

16.

Bruno BAPTISTA

DAMS

1:57.255

18

17.

Juan Manuel CORREA

Jenzer Motorsport

1:57.885

18

18.

Alessio LORANDI

Jenzer Motorsport

1:58.723

18

19.

Julien FALCHERO

Campos Racing

1:58.820

14

20.

Tatiana CALDERON

DAMS

1:59.345

9

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