Italy's Luca Ghiotto was quick to follow through his session-topping form in Friday evening's free practice session to also seize control of the first GP3 qualifying of 2015, claiming his second pole position in the series with what appeared to be relative ease.

See full GP3 qualifying times form the Circuit de Catalunya

Ghiotto will be joined on the front row by ART's Esteban Ocon, who made an early claim on pole position as qualifying got underway on the 2.892-mile, 16-turn Circuit de Catalunya. The French rookie's initial effort gave him eighth tenths in hand over his more experienced team mate Marvin Kirchh?fer in the opening minutes of qualifying on a sunny Saturday morning.

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Fellow rookie Alex Palou then pipped Ocon by 0.079s to briefly claim provisional pole, but ten minutes into the session it was Ghiotto who took emphatic control of the proceedings for Trident with a formidable and ultimately unbeatable lap of 1:35.469s to give him the lead almost seven tenths over Carlin's Mitchell Gilbert.

Ocon did subsequently improve his time to recapture a front row place, slotting back into second but still 0.139s away from Ghiotto's time. Fellow ART man Alfonso Celis Jr then succeeded in moved up to third just ahead of Kirchh?fer, while Koiranen GP's Jimmy Eriksson slipped into fifth with less than one hundredth of a second between himself and Gilbert who had nowbeen pushed down to sixth ahead of Ralph Boschung (Jenzer Motorsport) and ?scar Tunjo (Trident).

That was the order going into the final minutes of qualifying as the drivers prepared to make their final assault on the provisional standings. After visiting their pit stalls for fresh tyres and final set-up adjustments, all 24 drivers came back out on track to make their final presentation to the motor racing gods.

Arden's Emil Bernstorff made an early move up the standings to capture third place from local favourite Palou, and Math?o Tuscher (Jenzer Motorsport) improving to fifth ahead of Celis Jr. Kirchh?fer was also able to find some extra fractions of a second on his last flying lap and as a result was just able to leapfrog Ceclis Jr. for sixth by 0.009s. Tunjo was also able to squeeze some extra time out of his Trident to move up to eighth place which he held onto despite an improved lap from Jenzer Motorsport's Pal Varhaug which saw the Norwegian claim ninth from fellow Scandinavian Eriksson who will start from tenth place ahead of Gilbert and Boschung.

Bak at the front of the grid, Ghiotto looked to be well on the way to massively improving his provisional pole benchmark as he set new fastest times in sectors 1 and 2 - only to get seriously baulked by a dawdling car in the final part of the track that blew his chances of putting the top spot beyond the reach of his merely mortal rivals.

Fortunately for Ghiotto, it all proved somewhat academic: yellow flags were out for the Trident of Antonio Fuoco which had spun off in the final seconds of the session. It came to a halt stalled half-on, half-off the track in sector 2 which meant that no one was allowed to further improve on their times before the chequered flag came out.

Kevin Ceccon's Arden showed no lasting ill-effects from the gremlins that had caused it to come to a smoky halt in yesterday's practice which had seen it leave oil on the track at turn 9 that had necessitated a brief red flag to clean up. However the lack of track time had clearly had some impact on the the driver himself, who could only manage 19th place on the grid on Saturday.

Arden's Aleksander Bosak qualified in 23rd place but was subsequently penalised by the stewards for failing to stop at the FIA weighbridge, a breach of the sporting regulations as the team then failed to bring the car back to the weighbridge before working on it. That means the Polish rookie will now have to take the start of today's race from the pit lane.

Ghiotto will now line-up on pole position for this afternoon's 22-lap race, which gets underway at 5.20pm local time (4.20pm BST) immediately after the GP2 feature race has concluded.

For the first time in GP3, the weekend's two races will have different durations: race 1 has been extended by ten minutes to provide an extra challenge for the drivers, meaning that the Sunday morning race five laps shorter when it gets the green flag at 9.25am (8.25am BST) tomorrow. The top eight for Sunday's start will be set under reverse grid rules, meaning that whoever comes eighth on Saturday picks up a valuable pole position for race 2.

See full GP3 qualifying times form the Circuit de Catalunya