Jeroen Bleekemolen and A1 Team Netherlands have been granted a surprise pole position for the third round of the A1 Grand Prix around the streets of Beijing after qualifying for the race had to be cancelled.

With dislodged manhole covers causing issues just a day after free practice was halted following concerns about the layout of the circuit, officials demanded an inspection of the circuit, meaning all running around the circuit had to be halted for the day.

As a result, regulations insist the grid is determined by the results of, in this case, the only practice session to be held over the weekend, something that sees Bleekemolen secure both his and Netherlands first pole position in the series.

Alongside him will be Salvador Duran for Mexico, the British Formula Three driver eager to close the gap down to championship leader Nico Hulkenberg in the Team Germany entry this weekend, the youngster starting in fifth place.

Despite the disruptions and a new name at the top of the timesheets, the rest of the grid is not quite so unexpected, with the returning Enrico Toccacelo securing third on the grid for Italy, while Canada's James Hinchcliffe was fourth fastest.

Alongside Hulkenberg though is the first of a handful of newcomers, the first of which being Champ Car Atlantic driver Raphael Matos, who took Brazil to their best qualifying position of the season in sixth, even if it remains to be seen whether it is he or regular driver Tuka Rocha who will actually start the race.

Round one winner Adrian Zaugg returned to put South Africa seventh, while Oliver Jarvis was a respectable eighth on his Team Great Britain debut. Tomas Enge for Czech Republic and the returning Neel Jani for Switzerland rounded out the top ten.

Championship contenders USA, Malaysia and France however will find themselves facing an uphill struggle in the very short Sprint race, particularly as new regulations for this weekend see the Feature race grid decided by the results of the first event. They will start, with Philip Giebler, Alex Yoong and Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel, 13th, 16th and 21st respectively.

 

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