Paul Aron bounced back from a difficult first three Formula Regional Asian Championship rounds to take pole position for races one and three this weekend at Dubai Autodrome.
In both of the 15-minute qualifying sessions, the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior left it until his final lap to move to the top of the times, the only frontrunner to improve in the closing stages.
Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar will start alongside Aron in race one, having topped the times from the third lap until Aron beat him by 0.129 seconds.
Pepe Marti put in another strong performance for Pinnacle Motorsport to qualify third as the top rookie. Behind him, just 0.134s separated Mumbai Falcons’ trio of Dino Beganovic, points leader Arthur Leclerc and debutant Ollie Bearman.
Hitech returnee Gabriele Mini qualified seventh, ahead of Pinnacle’s early pacesetter, Dilano van’t Hoff.
In the faster second qualifying session, Aron again left it late, this time edging past Leclerc by 0.043s to take top spot on his sixth and final lap. With the exception of Aron, drivers’ fastest laptimes were posted in the middle of Q2.
Beganovic will start third on the grid for race three, alongside Hadjar. The third row will be shared by Mini and Bearman.
Marti could do no better than ninth in Q2, while Aron’s Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema team-mate Jak Crawford had two quiet sessions and could only manage to go ninth and eighth fastest.
Track limits proved problematical for several drivers particularly in the first session, with Lena Buhler, Francesco Braschi and free practice pacesetter Oliver Goethe in particular having multiple laptimes deleted.
Race 1 grid
1 Paul Aron Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema 1m54.332s
2 Isack Hadjar Hitech GP +0.129s
3 Pepe Marti Pinnacle Motorsport +0.195s
4 Dino Beganovic Mumbai Falcons +0.310s
5 Arthur Leclerc Mumbai Falcons +0.376s
6 Ollie Bearman Mumbai Falcons +0.444s
7 Gabriele Mini Hitech GP +0.449s
8 Dilano van’t Hoff Pinnacle Motorsport +0.502s
9 Jak Crawford Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +0.572s
10 Pierre-Louis Chovet BlackArts Racing +0.572s
Race 3 grid
1 Aron 1m54.108s
2 Leclerc +0.043s
3 Beganovic +0.081s
4 Hadjar +0.307s
5 Mini +0.337s
6 Bearman +0.349s
7 Chovet +0.364s
8 Crawford +0.400s
9 Marti +0.424s
10 Michael Belov Evans GP +0.460s