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GP3 Spa: Ghiotto takes stunning pole on series debut

When Trident decided on an all-new GP3 driver line-up for Spa they couldn't have dared hope that one of them would end up winning pole position.
CLICK: Full GP3 qualifying session results from Spa Francorchamps

In cold and wet conditions at Spa-Francorchamps, Trident's Luca Ghiotto timed his final flying lap to perfection to clinch pole position in Saturday morning qualifying in his début outing in the GP3 Series.

The 19-year-old Italian was out for his last timed effort just as the track was starting to dry out a little under weak sunshine, but before traffic became an issue to hold him up. He was able to post a lap of 2:22.251s with three laps remaining in the 30 minute session, with Carlin's Emil Bernstorff putting in an improved effort at the same time to slip into second place a third of a second back.

Until that point it had been Koiranen GP's Jimmy Eriksson who had been in control of the proceedings with his final flying lap of 2:22.678s set before the mid-session pit stops, but the Swede was unable to find any additional pace in the final minutes of the session and had to settle for third place on the grid alongside Status GP's Richie Stanaway.

Alex Lynn had briefly held the top spot before Eriksson, but he was only able to improve his lap by a few hundredths in his subsequent runs and his final lap saw a poor middle sector before he was held up in heavy traffic in the final corners meaning that he was left in a disappointing fifth place on the grid alongside Marussia Manor Racing's Patrick Kujala.

After their domination in Friday evening's practice session before the drizzle had rolled in, ART attempted an audacious move back on to slick tyres for their final runs on Saturday morning only to find that track conditions out on the expansive 4.352-mile, 20-turn circuit were still far more slippery than it had looked from the relative safety of pit road.

All three ART drivers were quickly forced back to pit road for new sets of wets, and the time lost meant that Marvin Kirchhöfer ended up in seventh place ahead of Arden's Patric Niederhauser with Dino Zamparelli in tenth after topping the Friday practice times and Alex Fontana mired down in 16th place.

Despite the tricky conditions which saw plenty of cars struggle to make corners, there were no major incidents during the session other than Korainen's Carmen Jorda running off into the gravel in the opening minutes. That required yellow flags to retrieve the car, during which time the cars circulated at reduced speed and concentrated on removing as much water from the race line as possible before starting their qualifying efforts.

Jorda did not get a chance to set a timed lap and will require special dispensation to line-up on the grid sine she was not within 107 per cent of the pole winner's time.

One driver that will definitely be missing from the start is Ghiotto's Trident team mate Konstantin Tereshchenko, who has been ordered to sit out the weekend's races following his dramatic accident near the end of Friday evenings practice session in which he was launched high into the air by the 'sausage' kerbing in the final corners, roll and hit the barrier where his car caught fire.

The 13 laps of race 1 get underway on Saturday afternoon at 5.20pm local time (4.20pm BST), while race 2 is on Sunday morning at 9.25am (8.25am BST). Both races will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports F1.

See full GP3 qualifying session results from Spa Francorchamps



Related Pictures

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Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) during practice at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Friday 22 August 2014. (Photo: Jed Leicester/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) during practice at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Friday 22 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) celebrates in Parc Ferme after race 2 at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Sunday 7 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) heads to the podium after race 2 at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Sunday 7 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) on the podium after race 2 at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Sunday 7 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) on the podium after race 2 at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Sunday 7 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing), Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin), and Marvin Kirchhofer (GER, ART Grand Prix) on the podium after race 2 at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Sunday 7 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) during practice at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. 6th September. Friday 5 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) during practice at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. 6th September. Friday 5 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP), Dino Zamparelli (GBR, ART Grand Prix) & Marvin Kirchhofer (GER, ART Grand Prix) celebrate after race 1 at the  Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) celebrates after race 1 at the  Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) is sprayed with champagne after race 1 at the  Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix), Arthur Pic (FRA, Campos Racing) & Mitch Evans (NZL, RT RUSSIAN TIME) on the podium at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) celebrates on the podium at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) celebrates in Parc Ferme after victory in the feature race at  Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Steven Tee/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) celebrates in Parc Ferme after victory in the feature race at  Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Saturday 6 September 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) in action during practice at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Friday 5 September 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jimmy Eriksson (SWE, Koiranen GP) in action during practice at the Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy. Friday 5 September 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)

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