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Coletti on pole for Sepang season opener

22 March 2013

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.


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