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Melker takes first ever GP3 pole

Nigel Melker surprises pre-race favourites by claiming first-ever GP3 Series pole in Barcelona.
Nigel Melker continued RSC Mucke Motorsport's early dominance in the new GP3 Series by claiming pole position for the inaugural season-opener at the Circuit de Catalunya

The early morning start meant a low track temperature of just 14 degrees on a drying track, making the conditions tricky for the 30 young drivers, but produced an extremely closely-fought battle for top spot, with positions constantly changing during the final few minutes.

Almost half of the field were potential polesitters and it was impossible to predict who would find the extra few hundredths needed to claim the coveted top spot. Status GP's Robert Wickens put in a last-minute push and looked likely to take pole when he posted the first lap time under 1min 53secs, but it wasn't to be for the Canadian driver, as RSC Mucke Motorsport continued its strong weekend with Melker crossing the line seconds later with an improved time of 1min 52.602secs.

Melker held on to top spot despite last ditch attempts from the remainder of the field, with Pal Varhaug coming closest to toppling him with an extremely impressive performance for Jenzer Motorsport. The young Norwegian improved lap after lap in the dying moments, and his last lap of 1min 52.931secs was enough to knock Wickens down to third.

Daniel Morad, in the second Status entry, finished a thrilling session in fourth, followed by Manor's James Jakes and Carlin's Dean Smith, both Britons having also moved ahead of anticipated pole favourite Esteban Gutierrez and Renger van der Zande, who wound up seventh and ninth respectively. Jean-Eric Vergne and Simon Trummer completed the top ten.

Alexander Rossi's start to the campaign continued in disappointing fashion as the American crashed into the barrier early on in the session, completing just three laps and restricting himself to 28th position among the 29 cars to take to the track. Another casualty was Adrian Quaife-Hobbs who, after putting in impressive lap times during the free practice session, pushed a bit too hard to take the coveted top spot in qualifying and ended his session prematurely in the barrier.

Mirko Bortolotti was the driver to sit the session out, having injured his thumb during Friday's practice session.



Related Pictures

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Nigel Melker - RSC Mucke Motorsport
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates his win in Parc Ferme. Photo: Charles Coates/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates his win on the podium. Photo: Charles Coates/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates his win on the podium with Dino Zamparelli (GBR, ART Grand Prix) and Jann Mardenborough (GBR, Arden International) Photo: Charles Coates/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates his win in Parc Ferme. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) celebrates his win on the podium with Dino Zamparelli (GBR, ART Grand Prix) and Jann Mardenborough (GBR, Arden International) at the Hungaroring, Hungary 2014 GP3 Series Round 5. Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) and Robert Visoiu (ROU, Arden International) race for the lead at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix), Nick Yelloly (GBR, Status Grand Prix) and Robert Visoiu (ROU, Arden International) on the podium at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) and Nick Yelloly (GBR Status Grand Prix) celebrate on the podium at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) celebrates at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) celebrates at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway crosses the line to win at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Friday 25 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) takes pole at Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. Saturday 26 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) at Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany. Saturday 19 July 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) at Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany. Sunday 20 July 2014 (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Jann Mardenborough (GBR, Arden International) crosses the line to win his first race at Hockenheimring, Germany 2014 GP3 Series Round 4. Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)

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