Formula Renault graduate Giovanni Venturini grabbed pole position for the Auto GP season opener at Monza.

The 19-year-old Durango driver was the only man to go below 1m36 in the qualifying session, posting a fastest time of 1:35.936.

“A pole is the best way to start the season and doing it as a rookie makes it even better,” said Venturini after qualifying. “I knew that I was quick so with my first set of tyres I focused on securing a good laptime, without pushing too much.

“With the second set I really gave it all, but on the lap that was supposed to be my best I did a mistake at the second chicane. Initially I thought that it was over, but I managed to get another flying lap and that was the right one.”

Fabrizio Crestani was second quickest for Lazarus, just eight hundredths behind Venturini. Adrien Tambay was the best of the DAMS drivers in third, one tenth off Venturini.

Crestani said that traffic prevented him from taking pole: “My ideal lap was quicker than Venturini's pole, but traffic ruined my best lap. With the team we decided to go for it on the last available lap, but doing this I found a lot of slowing cars on my line, and in Parabolica this cost me a lot. Anyway the first row is great for tomorrow's race.”

Tambay said: “Obviously pole position would have been better, but third is fine considering that our Practices weren't exactly brilliant. I was waiting for this qualifying after a really long winter break, so I gave all I had and the outcome was very good. Now I hope to do the same tomorrow.”

Luca Filippi qualified fourth for Super Nova, ahead of Crestani's teammate Fabio Onidi, TP Formula rookie Samuele Buttarelli and Sergei Afanasiev for DAMS. Kevin Ceccon was eighth for Ombra, with Adrian Zaugg ninth for Super Nova and Marco Barba rounding out the top ten as the best of the Campos Racing drivers. The top eleven drivers were separated by less than a second.

Adrian Campos Jr did not take part in qualifying after crashing in free practice. He was taken to hospital where he underwent checks after complaining of back pain.

Qualifying results:

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap
1. Giovanni Venturini Durango 1:35.936  
2. Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus 1:36.014 0.078
3. Adrien Tambay DAMS 1:36.047 0.111
4. Luca Filippi Super Nova 1:36.183 0.247
5. Fabio Onidi Lazarus 1:36.340 0.404
6. Samuele Buttarelli TP Formula 1:36.350 0.414
7. Sergei Afanasiev DAMS 1:36.394 0.458
8. Kevin Ceccon Ombra Racing 1:36.506 0.570
9. Adrian Zaugg Super Nova 1:36.567 0.631
10. Marco Barba Campos Racing 1:36.645 0.709
11. Rio Haryanto DAMS 1:36.929 0.993
12. Pasquale Di Sabatino Ombra Racing 1:37.503 1.567
13. Bruno Mendez Campos Racing 1:37.617 1.681
14. Giuseppe Cipriani Durango 1:38.064 2.128
15. Francesco Dracone Emmebi Motorsport 1:38.879 2.943