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Coletti on pole for Sepang season opener

Rapax's Stefano Coletti set the early pace, and then returned later in the session to seal the deal ahead of James Calado and Felipe Nasr.
Stefano Coletti claimed the first points of the 2013 GP2 Series season on Friday afternoon, winning pole position at the Sepang International Circuit in Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia for Saturday's feature race 1.

Most of the teams had been keen to swing into action at the start of the 30-minute qualifying session and were queuing up at pit exit for several minutes before the session got underway. The Rapax cars were at the front of the line and Coletti put that to good use by immediately setting the benchmark time of 1:48.850s for the rest to follow, which he immediately trimmed a further four seconds on now-fully warmed tyres with his second effort thanks to a cheeky tow down the final straight from Addax's Rio Haryanto.

Coletti was soon knocked off the top first by Russian Times's Sam Bird and then by Carlin's Felipe Nasr before Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer posted a new provisional pole time of 1:44.463s. Having sat out the first ten minutes of the session, ART's James Calado was next to challenge for the top spot but a minor run-off on his flying lap left him 0.024s off Leimer's time at the halfway point.

Marcus Ericsson's attempt to claim pole were thwarted by hitting heavy traffic on his flying lap, leaving Coletti to take back control of the timing screens with his sole flier of the latter half of the session managing 1:44.280s despite a minor run-off onto the grass. Coletti called it a day after that and watched the remainder of the session from the pit wall, and despite that slight error his lap remained the best time of the afternoon: Nasr came within an agonisingly close eighth thousandths of a second of stealing pole, and Calado split the difference even finer to go into second, but neither could quite depose the Rapax by the time the chequered flag came out.

There were no stoppages in the session, although Racing Engineering's Julián Leal had a scare early on when he overcooked it out of the final corner and ran onto the grass and nearly into the barrier.

In the latter part of the session, Arden's Johnny Cecotto Jr. ran Sam Bird completely off the road between turns 6 and 7, in what seemed an intentional move apparently in retaliation for an earlier contretemps between the two. Cecotto was placed under investigation by the race stewards as a result. [See separate story.]

Caterham's Sergio Canamasas and Trident's Nathanaël Berthon also had hot heads after the session, Canamasas physically remonstrating with the tall Frenchman as the two waited in the weigh-in area after qualifying concluded.

Full Friday qualifying times available soon.
See full Friday morning practice times.



Related Pictures

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Stefano Coletti (MON, Rapax) during Friday practice at Sepang, Malaysia - March 22, 2013. (World Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Rapax) during Friday practice at Sepang, Malaysia - March 22, 2013. (World Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Rapax) during the third day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Thursday 7th March. (Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service)
Raffaele Marciello (ITA, Racing Engineering) at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Friday 10 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Marco Sorensen (DK, MP Motorsport) in action at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Friday 10 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Marco Sorensen (DK, MP Motorsport) celebrates in parc ferme 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) 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) celebrates in Parc Ferme after race 2 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/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), 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.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Koiranen GP), leads Marvin Kirchhofer (GER, ART Grand Prix) & Dino Zamparelli (GBR, ART Grand Prix) at the start of race 1 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Koiranen GP) takes the flag as he wins race 1 at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Koiranen GP) in action at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Friday 10 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Koiranen GP) celebrates winning pole position at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Koiranen GP) celebrates winning pole position at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Saturday 11 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Arthur Pic (FRA, Campos Racing) after qualifying at Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. Friday 10 October 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)

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