Campos Racing‘s Leonardo Pulcini has put himself in the best position for the opening race of the 2018 GP3 Series at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on pole position.
The Italian jumped to the top of the standings at the last gasp, depriving ART Grand Prix of a 1-2-3 on the grid as well a sixteenth pole position in a row – dating back to the opening race of the 2016 season.
ART will still have three of their four drivers starting in the top five with Nikita Mazepin starting second ahead of Anthoine Hubert and Callum Ilott. Jake Hughes had been up at the sharp end but was not able to improve on his early run and dropped down to eleventh.
The session had gotten underway by Trident pair Ryan Tveter and Alessio Lorandi, managing to maintain track position to set early laps.
Hubert and Giuliano Alesi joined the action and quickly took over at the top after a flurry of quick laps.
The ART driver extended his advantage at the top before Mazepin took over control of the session, holding the top spot into the mid-session lull.
Hubert looked as though he was going to go quicker as the cars headed back out on track but hit traffic which ruined his hopes – further dampened by Mazepin extending his advantage by a further four tenths of a second.
Eventually, Hubert got the upper hand but was immediately beaten by Mazepin with it looking like an all ART top three was certain.
With just a minute remaining on the clock, Pulcini pulled a lap out of the bag to claim the top spot to secure pole as the remainder of the field was unable to mount a challenge to the Italian’s time.
Mazepin and Hubert remained second and third, with Ilott a fraction behind his team-mates.
Niko Kari and Dorian Boccolacci locked out the third row for series newcomers MP Motorsport, rookie Simo Laaksonen will start seventh.
Another rookie David Beckmann of Jenzer Motorsport secured eighth with his final timed lap as Lorandi and Alesi completed the top ten.
It is a disappointing eleventh for Hughes, alongside Juan Manuel Correa.
Pedro Piquet, Tatiana Calderon, Julien Falchero, Diego Menchaca, Joey Mawson, Gabriel Aubry, Ryan Tveter and Will Palmer complete the grid.
2018 GP3 Series: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – Qualifying
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