Spa GP2: Vandoorne hangs on for home pole position

McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne survived a flurry of late improvements by his rivals in a frantic qualifying session to take pole position for his home GP2 round at Spa.

Spa GP2: Vandoorne hangs on for home pole position
Stoffel Vandoorne, ART Grand Prix
Stoffel Vandoorne, ART Grand Prix
Stoffel Vandoorne, ART Grand Prix
Oliver Rowland, Fortec Motorsports
Jordan King, Racing Engineering
Alex Lynn, DAMS leads Pierre Gasly, DAMS

The Belgian proved the driver to beat during the initial runs, his first flying lap of 1m56.518s putting him a comfortable four tenths faster than his closest rival, Oliver Rowland.

Vandoorne then took advantage of a clear track in the traditional mid-session lull - a tactic used to great effect at Hungary by Alex Lynn - to lower the benchmark by another 0.240s with a searing effort of 1m56.278s before heading back to the pits.

The championship leader then faced a nervous wait as his rivals tried to dislodge him from the top spot in the final five minutes, but nobody was able to beat Vandoorne's time, the ART driver securing a fourth pole of the season. 

It was Rowland once more who provided the sternest challenge, the Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader taking a front row spot in only his second GP2 weekend with a time 0.147s adrift of Vandoorne.

That demoted Sergey Sirotkin to third place, 0.235s off the pace, ahead of Jordan King and Hungary sprint race winner Nobuharu Matsushita.

Second in practice, Mitch Evans could do no better than sixth in qualifying, two thousandths slower than Matsushita, ahead of Pierre Gasly and Alexander Rossi.

Hungary polesitter Lynn was visibly frustrated to only qualify ninth, seven tenths off the pace, while Norman Nato completed the top 10.

Qualifying results:

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap
Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1'56.278  
Oliver Rowland MP Motorsport 1'56.425 0.147
Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 1'56.513 0.235
Jordan King Racing Engineering 1'56.625 0.347
Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1'56.659 0.381
Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 1'56.661 0.383
Pierre Gasly DAMS 1'56.701 0.423
Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 1'56.845 0.567
Alex Lynn DAMS 1'56.985 0.707
10  Norman Nato Arden International 1'57.019 0.741
11  Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 1'57.143 0.865
12  Raffaele Marciello Trident 1'57.218 0.940
13  Robert Visoiu Rapax 1'57.273 0.995
14  Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1'57.275 0.997
15  Nick Yelloly Hilmer Motorsport 1'57.328 1.050
16  Julian Leal Carlin 1'57.440 1.162
17  Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 1'57.528 1.250
18  Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus 1'57.560 1.282
19  Nathanael Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus 1'57.615 1.337
20  Andre Negrao Arden International 1'57.661 1.383
21  Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 1'57.746 1.468
22  Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1'57.809 1.531
23  Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1'58.136 1.858
24  Gustav Malja Trident 1'58.371 2.093
25  Sean Gelael Carlin 1'58.402 2.124
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