Hungaroring Auto GP: Vittorio Ghirelli carries dominant form to pole

Vittorio Ghirelli recorded his maiden Auto GP pole position at the Hungaroring on Saturday

Hungaroring Auto GP: Vittorio Ghirelli carries dominant form to pole

The 18-year-old Italian, a Formula Renault 3.5 convert, has threatened to achieve a notable result in recent races, and set a worthy fastest lap in Marrakech last month.

Buoyed by recording the fastest time in every preceding Auto GP session at the Hungaroring this weekend, Ghirelli took command in qualifying.

The Super Nova charge sat out the final two minutes in the pits, after establishing a solid 0.588-second advantage over second placed Tamas Pal Kiss.

Ghirelli's confidence proved well founded as the order remained unchanged during the final laps and he claimed his first pole in car racing.

"I have had a slight fuel pressure issue during the weekend," he said.

"Before changing my tyres [in qualifying] I heard a whirring noise start up again so decided to pit.

"I was fastest throughout and knew I had done a good lap so I was happy to wait.

"Now I want to make sure we take this opportunity and win tomorrow."

Auto GP debutant Kiss retained his commendable second position in the classification at the chequered flag.

In contrast to the local star, championship leader Kimiya Sato had no prior experience of the circuit before Friday's test, and took time to gather speed over the weekend.

Sato will head the second row for Sunday's opening Auto GP race, after qualifying four tenths faster than Manor MP Motorsport's Riccardo Agostini.

The reigning Italian Formula 3 champion forms a buffer between the Japanese and his closest rival in the drivers' standings, Sergio Campana.

Auto GP rookie Meindert van Buuren claimed a respectable sixth, ahead of former Jordan and HRT Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan, who reported suffering slightly too much roll in his Zele Racing Lola during final practice.

Double 2013 victor Campana was the first driver to break into the 1m34s in qualifying, seven minutes into the session.

GP2 man Daniel de Jong and Sato briefly took turns at the head of the timing screens, before Campana again grasped provisional pole.

The incremental improvements were put into perspective when Ghirelli made a huge stride in performance a third of the way into qualifying by setting a 1m32.951s.

Kiss established himself in second position moments later, but was unable to mount a serious assault on pole.

Ghirelli put the benchmark time further from reach by finding further gains three minutes before the chequered flag.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova 1m32.589s 2. Tamas Pal Kiss MLR 71 1m33.177s + 0.588s 3. Kimiya Sato Euronova 1m33.263s + 0.674s 4. Riccardo Agostini Manor MP 1m33.730s + 1.141s 5. Sergio Campana Ibiza 1m33.926s + 1.337s 6. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP 1m34.019s + 1.430s 7. Narain Karthikeyan Zele 1m34.100s + 1.511s 8. Daniel de Jong Manor MP 1m34.273s + 1.684s 9. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani 1m34.336s + 1.747s 10. Luciano Bacheta Zele 1m34.674s + 2.085s 11. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova 1m34.817s + 2.228s 12. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi UK 1m35.089s + 2.500s 13. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK 1m35.207s + 2.618s 14. Francesco Dracone Super Nova 1m35.963s + 3.374s 15. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza 1m36.062s + 3.473s 16. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 1m43.735s + 11.146s 
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Hungaroring Auto GP: Vittorio Ghirelli takes practice clean sweep

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Series Auto GP
Author Peter Mills