Donington Park Auto GP: Narain Karthikeyan extends pole streak
|By Peter Mills||Saturday, August 31st 2013, 16:40 GMT|
Narain Karthikeyan emerged from an eventful Auto GP qualifying session at Donington Park to seal his fourth consecutive pole position.
Oil was reported on the track surface at Coppice prior to the session, which perhaps contributed to a number of drivers running off the road and covering the exit of the corner with gravel.
The session was interrupted twice when Michele La Rosa parked in a dangerous position at Coppice and Meindert van Buuren's Manor MP car became beached, backwards, in a gravel trap.
The timing of the second stoppage, five minutes before the end of the half hour session, was particularly unfortunate for Karthikeyan.
The former grand prix driver had just moved to the top of timing screens, only to be stripped of his provisional pole lap as the red flags had been clearly flown before the Super Nova racer had completed his lap.
Demoted to seventh, the practice pacesetter was under pressure on the restart. Two quick laps in succession propelled him back to first though, 0.097s faster than team-mate Vittorio Ghirelli.
At the time of the final stoppage, former GP2 driver Kevin Giovesi led the order. Giovesi found a one tenth of a second improvement on the restart, but slipped to third on the grid for Sunday's opening race.
Giovesi's Ghinzani Motorsport team-mate Robert Visoiu produced his best qualifying effort for several races and is set to start from fourth.
Championship rivals Sergio Campana and Kimiya Sato share the third row.
Campana, who trails Sato by 13 points in the drivers' standings, bounced back from an early off at McLeans to edge out his season-long adversary by 0.027s.
Former GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 driver Tamas Pal Kiss starts seventh ahead of Roberto La Rocca, who endured an incident-packed day.
After a sensor and alternator failure in free practice, La Rocca spun on the exit of Coppice in qualifying, but kept his engine running and was able to continue.
Others to encounter difficulty at Coppice included Andrea Roda and Giovesi.
Marshals placed cement dust on oil at several corners prior to the session, and the difficult conditions were reflected in the lap times, which proved slower than in this morning's free practice session.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Narain Karthikeyan Super Nova 1m17.132s 2. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova 1m17.229s +0.097s 3. Kevin Giovesi Ghinzani 1m17.561s +0.429s 4. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani 1m17.688s +0.556s 5. Sergio Campana Ibiza 1m17.702s +0.570s 6. Kimiya Sato Euronova 1m17.851s +0.719s 7. Tamas Pal Kiss Ibiza 1m17.967s +0.835s 8. Roberto La Rocca Comtec/Virtuosi 1m18.356s +1.224s 9. Daniel de Jong Manor MP 1m18.365s +1.233s 10. Andrea Roda Virtuosi 1m18.513s +1.381s 11. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP 1m19.105s +1.973s 12. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova 1m19.626s +2.494s 13. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi 1m19.919s +2.787s 14. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 1m21.052s +3.920s