Giorgio Pantano has strengthened his position at the head of the GP2 standings after securing pole position for the latest round of the season on the streets of Valencia.
The Racing Engineering man posted a quickest time of 1min 45.640secs during the session around the streets of the Spanish city which was good enough to see him take pole ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Vitaly Petrov.
Pantano left it late to secure pole, with his quickest lap coming on his final tour as he extended his lead over Bruno Senna, who could manage only the eighth fastest time.
Kamui Kobayashi opened proceedings in the session with the first sub 1min 50secs lap on his first flyer, before losing the rear of his car and spinning into the wall at turn five, losing his front and rear wings and bringing out the red flags just as Pantano pipped his time to set a strong banker lap before returning to the pits with the rest of the field.
With the track soon clear it was Bruno Senna who was trying to get his weekend started by claiming second on the timesheets, but Romain Grosjean was determined to lay his Hungarian demons to rest and almost immediately set the fastest lap of the session, starting a back and forth fight for the top spot between himself, Pantano and Maldonado, with all three drivers swapping the position for the remainder of the session.
Karun Chandhok went over the limit of adhesion halfway through the session at the same spot as Kobayashi had his accident, with the Indian driver doing well to stay off the wall as he spun around and stopped in the middle of the track: quick thinking marshals saved the day as they swarmed out to give him a push start and prevented the session being stopped.
Traffic was the undoing of many a good lap, with Luca Filippi, Lucas di Grassi and Senna all losing better laps than they brought home, and when Grosjean was held up on his final flying lap Pantano's pole position was assured.
Behind the top four Andreas Zuber, Jérôme D'Ambrosio, Sébastien Buemi, Senna, Mike Conway and Filippi round out the top ten on the grid.