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Davide Valsecchi opens 2012 GP2 season with pole in Malaysia

Davide Valsecchi, DAMS, Sepang 2012Davide Valsecchi took pole position for the GP2 season opener in Malaysia as DAMS picked up where it left off with Romain Grosjean in 2011.

The Italian, who has taken the seat vacated by reigning champion Grosjean following the Frenchman's graduation to Formula 1, moved to the lead of the times early in the session and was never headed.

His position at the top came under threat from Arden's Luiz Razia in the closing stages, but the Brazilian came across the line 0.060 seconds shy of pole after being delayed by Fabrizio Crestani in the final corner.

Max Chilton was rewarded for waiting for the track to be relatively empty during the middle part of the session as he set the third fastest time for Carlin, and he will be joined on the second row by Stefano Coletti (Coloni).

Razia was not the only driver to lose his chance of pole in the final corner. Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer already had a time on the board within 0.1s of Valsecchi when he appeared on course to better that, but the Swiss driver had a huge moment in the final corner triggered by a lock-up, which ruined his lap.

Leimer had to settle for fifth, just ahead of standout rookie James Calado for Lotus GP/ART. Free practice pacesetter Jolyon Palmer (iSport) took a solid seventh, while Giedo van der Garde's prediction that Caterham Racing would start the season slightly adrift of the pace proved true as he took eighth.

Rookies Fabio Onidi (Coloni) and Felipe Nasr (DAMS) both impressed to get into the top 10, while further down the field there were some surprises for fancied title contenders.

Esteban Gutierrez paid a hefty price for being 0.6s off the pace and will line-up 15th for Lotus, while Marcus Ericsson, who along with iSport team-mate Palmer appeared to be on a different tyre strategy to most of the field, could only set a time good enough for 20th.

Onidi was later given a three-place penalty for having impeded Gonzalez during the session. The Coloni driver drops from ninth to 12th on the grid.

Pos  Driver               Team                Time       Gap
 1.  Davide Valsecchi     DAMS                1m45.494s
 2.  Luiz Razia           Arden               1m45.554s  + 0.060s
 3.  Max Chilton          Carlin              1m45.558s  + 0.064s
 4.  Stefano Coletti      Coloni              1m45.577s  + 0.083s
 5.  Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering  1m45.588s  + 0.094s
 6.  James Calado         Lotus               1m45.638s  + 0.144s
 7.  Jolyon Palmer        iSport              1m45.758s  + 0.264s
 8.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham            1m45.773s  + 0.279s
 9.  Fabio Onidi          Coloni              1m45.810s  + 0.316s
10.  Felipe Nasr          DAMS                1m45.942s  + 0.448s
11.  Johnny Cecotto Jr    Addax               1m46.012s  + 0.518s
12.  Fabrizio Crestani    Lazarus             1m46.138s  + 0.644s
13.  Stephane Richelmi    Trident             1m46.150s  + 0.656s
14.  Josef Kral           Addax               1m46.160s  + 0.666s
15.  Esteban Gutierrez    Lotus               1m46.186s  + 0.692s
16.  Tom Dillmann         Rapax               1m46.264s  + 0.770s
17.  Rio Haryanto         Carlin              1m46.392s  + 0.898s
18.  Nathanael Berthon    Racing Engineering  1m46.428s  + 0.934s
19.  Nigel Melker         Ocean               1m46.489s  + 0.995s
20.  Marcus Ericsson      iSport              1m46.557s  + 1.063s
21.  Jon Lancaster        Ocean               1m46.662s  + 1.168s
22.  Julian Leal          Trident             1m46.868s  + 1.374s
23.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Caterham            1m46.962s  + 1.468s
24.  Simon Trummer        Arden               1m47.004s  + 1.510s
25.  Ricardo Teixeira     Rapax               1m48.113s  + 2.619s
26.  Giancarlo Serenelli  Lazarus             1m49.620s  + 4.126s
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