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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.



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Nigel Melker - RSC Mucke Motorsport
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Media Service
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2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident), celebrates on the podium with Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) and 4. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
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2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) crosses the line to take the win. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
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2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 22 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 22 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Friday 21 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Friday 21 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.

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