Hitech GP’s Juri Vips topped a delayed wet qualifying session held in fading light at Imola.
Heavy rain on Friday morning resulted in practice switched to the afternoon and qualifying moved to the end of the day’s schedule. Damp and cool conditions necessitated the use of wet tyres when the 30-minute session finally got underway.
Clement Novalak set an early benchmark for MP Motorsport of 1m42.855 seconds to lead Vips by 0.041s. Van Amersfoort Racing’s Jake Hughes was the first driver to dip under the 1m42s mark, with Ralph Boschung moving up to second for Campos.
Vips then eclipsed Hughes’s time by 0.389s to head the timesheets when Boschung’s team-mate Olli Caldwell triggered a red flag by beaching his car in the gravel at the Tamburello chicane.
More than half the session remained when the cars returned to track. Initially drivers struggled to improve in the greasy conditions, with Vips one of many to have a brief excursion off the circuit. But, despite the fading light, the drying tarmac resulted in times improving in the final minutes.
Hughes and Carlin’s Liam Lawson both lapped within 0.1s of Vips to move into second and third. Boschung put in a flier to grab provisional pole, but Vips responded to regain top spot by almost half a second.
Doohan also edged Boschung to move into second. But the pair were beaten in the final moments by DAMS driver Ayuma Iwasa, who will start Sunday’s feature race from the front row for the first time.
Dennis Hauger also had his best qualifying so far in fifth for Prema after a trouble-filled opening two rounds. Roy Nissany (DAMS) and Theo Pourchaire (ART) ended up sixth and seventh, having both been in the top four in the closing stages.
Jehan Daruvala was eighth for Prema despire spinning off late on at the Aqua Minerale section. Hitech’s Marcus Armstrong, who crashed in free practice, was ninth while Carlin’s Logan Sargeant secured pole for the partially-reversed grid sprint race with the 10th quickest time.
David Beckmann, who is standing in for the injured Cem Bolukbasi was 11th for Charouz ahead of MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich.
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