Dorian Boccolacci scored his first GP3 pole position in his home event at Le Castellet to lead a French 1-2-3.
Frenchman Boccolacci claimed pole position for the Feature race in the dying seconds of qualifying with a time of 1:50.615 around the Circuit Paul Ricard, removing fellow countryman Anthoine Hubert from the top spot and stopping Hubert from claiming his first pole in the series.
It was a day of firsts in the GP3 series as, on GP3’s first visit to France, Boccolacci not only claimed his first pole position but also MP Motorsport’s first pole in only their second GP3 qualifying session, having joined the series at the start of the 2018 season. Hubert fought to the last moment of qualifying but missed out on top spot by eight hundredths of a second and will start from the front row of the grid. The dominance of ART in practice, which Hubert led and the team filled the first four places , seemed to have disappeared in the break between the two sessions but all four cars were in contention during the session.
Third place on the grid went to another Frenchman in Trident’s Giuliano Alesi. Alesi, who won the Sprint race in Barcelona five weeks ago, emulated his father’s all or nothing approach in his qualifying session by carving through the traffic on track and exploring all the limits of the circuit to finish less than a tenth of a second from Boccolacci. Fellow Barcelona winner Nikita Mazepin will start from fourth after a quiet qualifying session that saw him down in 18th after the opening half of the session.
Leonardo Pulcini never looked like he would emulate his pole position from the opening round and will start from fifth for Campos Racing ahead of Finn Niko Kari in the second of the MP Motorsport cars to continue his consistent qualifying from 2018.
Top British driver Callum Ilott will be disappointed to start from row four after showing a similar pace to Alesi and Hubert throughout the session, even taking top spot just after the half way mark. Ilott is joined on row four by Alessio Lorandi for Trident, who just managed to sneak ahead of team-mate Pedro Piquet for eighth. Ninth shows the continuation of Piquet’s progress in his debut GP3 season whilst Arden International finally turned up to the party after a dismal showing in Barcelona with a top ten start for Joey Mawson, who was as high as second at one point of the sesson and was eighth in the earlier practice session.
An spectacular performance by debutant Christian Lundgaard placed him eleventh on the grid. Lundgaard, who had not run in the car before this weekend, steps up from MP Motorsport’s Formula Renault Eurocup team and replaces the out-going British driver Will Palmer for a ‘one-off outing. ART’s Jake Hughes will be frustrated for the second race weekend this season with twelfth on the grid after finding traffic throughout his qualifying runs and it will be interesting to see how he can come through the field in Saturday’s Feature race.
Jenzer Motorsport look like they are in for a tough weekend with Tatiana Calderon the top performer for them in thirteenth on the grid and not being anywhere near the top ten throughout practice.