Max Snegirev was denied a shock pole position for the first of the FIA Formula Two Championship races at Brands Hatch by championship leader Luciano Bacheta at the very end of the qualifying session.
The session began on a wet but drying track, meaning that the times got better as the 30 minute session wore on. Bacheta led the early running, but Kevin Mirocha was on top as the session came to a close.
Snegirev then managed to better the Polish driver's time by six tenths and looked like he could spring a surprise, before Bacheta went half a second clear with his own final effort.
“It was one of those sessions where the track was always changing and you didn’t know if you needed to be on slicks or not so it wasn’t a typical session where we usually do two runs,” said Brentwood man Bacheta.
“I went out to see what the track was like and every lap it was getting faster and faster and the tyres didn’t drop off so that said to me even if does get quite dry I’ll stick to wets because the tyres were holding up really well. I saw it wasn’t going to rain any more, the track was getting drier and drier and I knew my last lap would be the best so I had a cool down lap and pushed for the last one.”
Snegirev, who knows the Kent circuit well from his time in Formula Palmer Audi and British F3, said he will be aiming to win the race.
“I was on wets the whole session; the track wasn’t ready to be on slicks,” said the Russian. “The last corner was really wet. It was a matter of doing a cool down lap and trying to push hard again because the back section was drying quickly. It was a tricky session but I was pleased with the result.
“The idea is to go for the win all the time but you have to keep your head down and keep working. Luciano is good round this track and a really good diver so it isn’t going to be easy but we’ll do our best and work hard at it.”
Mirocha was disappointed he didn't get pole, but at the same time seemed happy with third.
“At first I saw my board was P1 but I still had one lap and I was pushing even harder,” he said. “It was a really good lap but I touched the white line and I thought ‘woah’ the barrier is coming close so everything was done in that moment. I finished that lap but it was of course worse so I went to the pits and the mechanics showed me P3 which was disappointing because I could have been faster.
“In the past I’ve had some strange bad luck, in Portimao there was rain coming or stuff like this, and somehow it has always disturbed me. Finally now I am in the top three for qualifying. It is a good position for the race and I will try to do the best for it.”
Dino Zamparelli was down towards the bottom of the timing screens near the end of the session but got a good last lap together on slicks to take fourth, but a grid penalty from Spa will see him start ninth.
Teenage ace Matheo Tuscher was fifth, ahead of Mihai Marinescu and Alex Fontana. Christopher Zanella was eighth, narrowly ahead of Daniel McKenzie and Kourosh Khani. Slough-born Axcil Jefferies took P11 after some impressive times in practice on Friday, while Lymington's Hector Hurst was only 12th despite leading the way early on.
David Zhu was 13th ahead of Mauro Calamia and Plamen Kralev. Markus Pommer yet again saw car issues end his session early, just as it had in first practice. He ended up last, unable to demonstrate the pace that saw him top second practice.
The first race takes place at 13:45 BST with live coverage on Motors TV and formula2.com.