Mitch Evans added four points to his GP3 Series points lead and claimed pole position for the weekend’s first race by coming out on top in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Kiwi ace was one of a number of drivers to sit in top spot during the session, which took place in dry conditions with some damp patches around. However, with a few minutes left it was the Lotus GP trio of Daniel Abt, Aaro Vainio and Conor Daly locking out the top places.
Evans then returned to P1 with a storming effort, enough to claim pole position and the four bonus points that come with it to extend his standings lead to 21 points ahead of the final four races.
Evans’ MW Arden teammate Matias Laine was the man who came closest, 0.225 seconds behind. Third-placed Abt missed out on a place on the front row by just 0.016s, and could have gone quicker had he not been held up by another car at the bus stop chicane.
Antonio Felix da Costa took fourth on the grid ahead of Daly, with Lewis Williamson claiming a strong sixth in his third event back in GP3. Evans’ nearest title rival Vainio could only manage seventh in the end, just ahead of Giovanni Venturini. Alex Fontana was ninth at the scene of his GP3 debut last year, while practice pacesetter Tio Ellinas only had enough for tenth in the nearly-dry conditions of qualifying.
Marlon Stockinger was 11th with Patric Niederhauser 12th, while Vicky Pirira was a highly impressive 13th, out-qualifying race winner William Buller as well as her compatriots Kevin Ceccon and David Fumanelli. Alex Brundle, Robert Visoiu and Tamas Pal Kiss were next up, ahead of Alice Powell. Ethan Ringel was 21st but could yet be penalised after replays showed him weaving dangerously on the Kemmel Straight and forcing a Lotus onto the grass.
Next were Robert Cregan, Dmitry Suranovich and Fabiano Machado, while local driver John Wartique was 25th of the 26 runners upon his return following his big shunt at the start of practice. Carmen Jorda was eight seconds off the pace following a high-speed pirouette at Les Combes.
The first race takes place at 16:20 BST.