Adrian Quaife-Hobbs takes Algarve Auto GP pole
Auto GP championship leader Adrian Quaife-Hobbs claimed his fourth pole position of the season courtesy of a controlled performance in qualifying for round six at Algarve
The Briton posted an early effort of 1m33.120s to move into first, and thereafter was never headed.
Quaife-Hobbs' only drama came at the end of qualifying. Having set his eventual pole time of 1m32.342s with three minutes of the half-hour session remaining, the Super Nova racer stopped out on track reporting a suspected suspension problem.
Argentinean Facu Regalia achieved his highest qualifying position of the year in second. Regalia's Campos Racing crew dealt with last minute repairs before the session, after suffering broken camber points in final free practice.
Quaife-Hobbs' Super Nova team-mate Victor Guerin will start Saturday's opening race in third. The Brazilian has recent experience of Portimao having contested last month's Formula 2 meeting, and is also taking in a limited GP2 programme with Ocean.
"My only other race confirmed in GP2 is Valencia, after that we'll see," said Guerin. "After GP2 in Monaco, my first time back in this car was on Thursday. I locked all of the wheels as I was still using my approach from the GP2 carbon brakes, whereas these are steel. At the start of the weekend I was a long way off Quaife-Hobbs, but we made a lot of changes to the car before qualifying and it's now much better. I just wish I had this car at the start of the weekend."
Italian Formula 3 champion Sergio Campana ended the afternoon a provisional fourth, but the MLR 71 driver is under investigation for a yellow flag infringement.
Virtuosi UK's Pal Varhaug's expected challenge failed to materialise. The Norwegian had rivalled Quaife-Hobbs for pace throughout practice, but a suspected fuel system gremlin prevented Varhaug from taking to the track in the final few minutes.
Formula Abarth Europe champion Sergey Sirotkin was another driver unable to fulfil his potential in sixth. The Euronova Racing charge could not post a time on soft tyres due to a large piece of Astroturf becoming lodged in his front wing.
The session was red-flagged just before midway point when Campana's MLR 71 team-mate Michele la Rosa stopped at Turn 4.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Super Nova 1m32.342s 2. Facu Regalia Campos 1m32.625s + 0.283s 3. Victor Guerin Super Nova 1m32.649s + 0.307s 4. Sergio Campana MLR 71 1m32.677s + 0.335s 5. Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK 1m32.953s + 0.611s 6. Sergey Sirotkin Euronova 1m32.976s + 0.634s 7. Chris van der Drift Manor MP 1m33.091s + 0.749s 8. Daniel de Jong Manor MP 1m33.130s + 0.788s 9. Sten Pentus Zele 1m33.291s + 0.949s 10. Juan Carlos Sistos Zele 1m33.508s + 1.166s 11. Maxim Snegirev Campos 1m33.929s + 1.587s 12. Francesco Dracone Virtuosi UK 1m34.120s + 1.778s 13. Antonio Spavone Euronova 1m34.187s + 1.845s 14. Giancarlo Serenelli Ombra 1m34.241s + 1.899s 15. Giuseppe Cipriani Campos 1m34.837s + 2.495s 16. Michele la Rosa MLR 71 1m35.325s + 2.983s
Quaife-Hobbs fastest in second practice for Auto GP round at Algarve
Quaife-Hobbs claims fourth Auto GP victory of 2012 at the Algarve