Nico H?lkenberg arrived in GP2 with a bang in qualifying for the third meeting on the 2008/09 Asia Series calendar in Bahrain this weekend - by planting his ART Grand Prix machine firmly on pole position.

Having lapped second-quickest to championship leader Kamui Kobayashi in free practice - albeit almost six tenths adrift of the Japanese ace - the reigning F3 Euroseries king laid down his initial marker only ten minutes into the qualifying session, and assured himself of the top spot on the starting grid towards the close.

Toyota test driver Kobayashi wound up just behind team-mate J?r?me d'Ambrosio in a DAMS two-three - the pair separated by a scant five hundredths of a second - with H?lkenberg's fellow rookie and F3 graduate Edoardo Mortara grabbing fourth for Arden, just over six tenths shy of the pole-sitter.

Roldan Rodriguez at Piquet GP waited until the chequered flag to clock his fastest lap time and seize fifth, ahead of iSport's Giedo van der Garde, the second ART machine of Sakon Yamamoto, Super Nova ace Javier Villa, series returnee Marco Bonanomi at Qi Meritus.Mahara and Davide Valsecchi behind the wheel of the leading Durango entry.

Earlier in the session, the Italian's team-mate Michael Dalle Stelle had gone off the track on cold tyres and been unable to rejoin, consequently lining up 26th and last for the feature race in the desert kingdom after failing to set a representative time.

To see the qualifying times in full, click here



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