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Valsecchi on Abu Dhabi pole.

Davide Valsecchi maintained his dominance in Abu Dhabi, claiming pole position for the GP2 Asia Series opener at Yas Marina.

Davide Valsecchi continued to set the pace in the GP2 Asia Series opener at the new Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, claiming pole position for the winter season opener on Saturday.

The iSport International driver was not to be denied what was, surprisingly, his first 'earned' GP2 pole, building on the dominance he showed during the morning's free practice session, where he had led by a massive 1.4secs. Although qualifying was closer, the Italian remained on top with a lap of 1min 51.964secs, which he clocked after only four laps.

As track temperature rose to 44°C by the time the pit-lane opened, rapid rookie Alexander Rossi set the initial pace for Ocean Racing Technology, but the American was soon denied top spot as Valsecchi took the advantage with his first flying lap. Fellow veteran Roldan Rodriguez, Diego Nunes and the impressive Fabio Leimer - the latter forming an inexperienced line-up at Ocean - all successively bettered the Italian's time, but Valsecchi would not let them remain on top for long, eventually reclaiming pole.

The one man who appeared most likely to stop Valsecchi's run to glory, countryman Luca Filippi, moved up to third position mid-session, but, having set the quickest lap during last week's pre-season tests, the Meritus driver suddenly slowed at turn 19 with a gearbox selection problem.

Through the pretenders, however, came debutant Sam Bird, who kept summer series champions ART at the sharp end by claiming a late second place ahead of Leimer, while Filippi - despite missing half of the session - managed to qualify fourth.

The Italian veteran will be followed by Rodriguez, Rodolfo Gonzalez (Arden), James Jakes (Super Nova), Johnny Cecotto (Trident), Josef Kral (Super Nova) and Giacomo Ricci (DPR) in the top ten, the latter having secured his place with his final lap of the half-hour session.

Further back, meanwhile, All-Japan F3 champion Marcus Ericsson managed only 15th spot, having been Valsecchi's closest challenger in free practice, putting the Swede behind Edoardo Piscopo, Italian F3 champion Daniel Zampieri, Rossi and Christian Vietoris.

Right at the back, however, relative unknown Plamen Kralev was a massive four seconds off the pace of second slowest driver Will Bratt, and 6.2secs off Valsecchi's pace....



Related Pictures

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Davide Valsecchi - Durango Corse   [pic credit: GP2 Series]
Raffaele Marciello (ITA, Racing Engineering) at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Friday 10 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
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Marco Sorensen (DK, MP Motorsport) celebrates on the podium after the Sunday sprint race at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Sunday 12 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Marco Sorensen (DK, MP Motorsport), Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) & Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin) celebrate on the podium after the Sunday sprint race at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Sunday 12 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) in Parc Ferme after race 2 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. (Photo: Glenn Dunbar/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates in Parc Ferme after race 2 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates with champagne on the podium after race 2 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Photo: Alastair Staley/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International), Dean Stoneman (GBR, Koiranen GP) and Marvin Kirchhofer (GER, ART Grand Prix) on the podium after race 2 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. (Photo: Glenn Dunbar/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) celebrates at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) celebrates at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) celebrates at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS), Mitch Evans (NZL, RT RUSSIAN TIME) & Raffaele Marciello (ITA, Racing Engineering) on the feature race podium at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) in action at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) celebrates win with his father Jonathan at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014.(Photo: Steven Tee/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) celebrates victory at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Steven Tee/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Newly-crowned 2014 GP2 Series Champion Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) celebrates in Parc Ferme at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Steven Tee/GP2 Series Media Service.)

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