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Britain’s Sam Bird and has clinched pole position ahead of Saturday’s GP2 Feature Race in Budapest. The ART Grand Prix driver will start ahead of iSport duo Davide Valsecchi and Oliver Turvey, with championship leader Pastor Maldonado fourth for Rapax.
Bird's best lap time of 1:27.864 came right at the end of the session to push his countryman off pole, with Turvey's team-mate twisting the knife by also squeezing past as the chequered flag dropped on one of this year's most dramatic sessions.
The entire grid came out on track immediately to make best use of the warm conditions, with Charles Pic and Christian Vietoris setting the initial pace before Valsecchi laid down a marker on his second flying lap: with so many of his rivals close on pace the usual Hungaroring traffic meant that everyone was tripping over everyone else as they pushed for pole.
Sergio Pérez tried to take advantage by staying out one lap longer than most of his rivals and looked to have done the job, but he ran deep at turn 12 and undid all of his good work. Likewise Pastor Maldonado came out ahead of the field to pick up an advantage, but was unable to capitalise when his rivals re-emerged on his first flying lap.
The Series leader was clearly desperate to show the pace that he had, but he pushed just too hard a few minutes later when he tried to overtake Pic in the third sector: the pair touched wheels and neither man was able to improve on their lap times, while at the other side of the track Turvey found a clear path through to the quickest lap of the session.
Jerome d'Ambrosio was another man to push slightly too hard, losing the car and stopping just before the final turn with 3 minutes remaining: it looked as though the session was done until Bird popped up with his quick lap, followed by Valsecchi, to set the front row for tomorrow's feature race.
Maldonado had to make do with P4 after his dramatic session, ahead of Vietoris, Alberto Valerio, Pérez, Giacomo Ricci, Michael Herck and Giedo van der Garde, but with the top twenty drivers split by just one second, tomorrow is shaping up to be one of the best races of the season.
- Full qualifying results
Saturday's Feature Race will begin at 3:40pm local time (BST +1)
ART Grand Prix
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