The Czech Republic driver Josef Kral put Arden at the top of the practice session time sheets on the first event of the 2011 GP2 Asia season, ahead of Team AirAsia's Davide Valsecchi and Lotus ART's Jules Bianchi.
The top three were covered by less than 0.4s, as the cars took to the track for their first race weekend on Pirelli tyres, the new Dallara GP2/11 chassis and on the new shorter (4.730km) configuration Yas Marina track.
Kral hit the top of the timesheets as early as seven minutes into the session ahead of Rapax's Fabio Leimer, iSport's Sam Bird and Lotus ART's Esteban Gutierrez. While Bird briefly ousted him from the top, Kral's response was immediate and seconds later put in green sectors all the way around and produced the top time of the morning which no one could match, especially as several drivers including Bird and Gutierrez started to push too hard and go wide off the track as the seconds ticked down.
Valsecchi did eventually put Team AirAsia into the second spot, a strong showing for a team new to GP2 this year and confirmation that their performances in the test sessions earlier this week were no fluke.
Today's practice and qualifying sessions mark the start of the fourth season of the GP2 Asia Series. Qualifying will start at 5:25pm local time, 1:25pm GMT, while the first feature race of the series is on Friday, starting at 12.55pm GMT.For full practice times, see the results section.