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Luca Ghiotto claims shock pole on GP3 debut at Spa

by Peter Allen
Luca Ghiotto

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service

Luca Ghiotto scored an unexpected pole position for his first ever race in GP3 by topping a wet qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps.

Jimmy Eriksson headed the times from championship leader Alex Lynn in the middle of the session, as the majority of the field took to the pits to fit new wet tyres.

Ghiotto, one of three series debutants that the Trident team drafted in for this weekend, was the first man to get back up to speed and he cleared Eriksson’s benchmark by 0.427 seconds with around three minutes left on the clock.

At that point, the timing screens were filled with personal best sectors, suggesting that conditions were improving and that Ghiotto’s time at the top would not last.

But few managed to actually find any significant improvement in their lap times, and nobody would be able to topple Formula Renault 3.5 regular Ghiotto.

Emil Bernstoff came closest and got up to second, but was a third of a second away from pole. That relegated Eriksson down to third, while Richie Stanaway moved up to fourth and one spot ahead of title rival Lynn.

Early pacesetter Patrick Kujala wound up sixth ahead of Marvin Kirchhofer, who along with his ART team-mates Dino Zamparelli and Alex Fontana gambled on slicks late on, but conditions were far from good enough for that and all three would end up switching back to wet rubber before the end.

Patric Niederhauser made a late improvement to take eighth ahead of Matheo Tuscher, with Zamparelli completing the top ten.

Another of Trident’s newcomers Konstantin Tereshchenko has been ruled out of the weekend as a precaution following his aerial crash in practice, while Carmen Jorda failed to set a time after sliding off into the gravel at Paul Frere corner on her out lap at the start of the session.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Luca Ghiotto Trident 2:22.251 11
2 Emil Bernstorff Carlin 2:22.584 0.333 10
3 Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen GP 2:22.678 0.427 9
4 Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 2:22.862 0.611 11
5 Alex Lynn Carlin 2:23.081 0.830 11
6 Patrick Kujala Marussia Manor Racing 2:23.303 1.052 11
7 Marvin Kirchhofer ART Grand Prix 2:23.413 1.162 9
8 Patric Niederhauser Arden International 2:23.438 1.187 10
9 Matheo Tuscher Jenzer Motorsport 2:23.481 1.230 11
10 Dino Zamparelli ART Grand Prix 2:23.565 1.314 11
11 Dean Stoneman Marussia Manor Racing 2:23.586 1.335 11
12 Jann Mardenborough Arden International 2:23.794 1.543 11
13 Nick Yelloly Status Grand Prix 2:23.920 1.669 11
14 Robert Visoiu Arden International 2:23.996 1.745 10
15 Kevin Ceccon Jenzer Motorsport 2:24.057 1.806 12
16 Alex Fontana ART Grand Prix 2:24.248 1.997 9
17 Sebastian Balthasar Hilmer Motorsport 2:24.464 2.213 12
18 Santiago Urrutia Koiranen GP 2:24.687 2.436 11
19 Nelson Mason Hilmer Motorsport 2:24.846 2.595 11
20 Luis Sa Silva Carlin 2:24.862 2.611 10
21 Pal Varhaug Jenzer Motorsport 2:25.301 3.050 11
22 Alfonso Celis Status Grand Prix 2:25.553 3.302 11
23 Riccardo Agostini Hilmer Motorsport 2:25.965 3.714 11
24 John Bryant-Meisner Trident 2:25.969 3.718 12
25 Ryan Cullen Marussia Manor Racing 2:26.537 4.286 11
26 Carmen Jorda Koiranen GP No time