Frenchman Esteban Ocon secured his first pole position in GP3 in a dramatic qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom. The ART Grand Prix and Mercedes backed driver topped qualifying at various times and won the battle for pole by a mere 0.040’s over Jenzer Motorsport’s Matheo Tuscher. Kevin Ceccon (Arden International) was third whilst Series leader Luca Ghiotto will start seventh.
Following rain overnight, damp conditions greeted the 24 drivers for qualifying for Round 7 of the 2015 GP3 Series in Russia. Carlin’s Jann Mardenborough was the initial pace setter after setting the fastest time on wet Pirelli tyres with the rest of the field on slicks.
Trident’s Ghiotto then headed the timesheet as the track began to dry, with Seb Morris (Status Grand Prix) next to lead the way. Ghiotto was first to lap under the 2 minute mark, with his rookie teammate Michele Beretta an impressive second at the midway point.
Russian star Konstantin Tereshchenko was also catching everyone’s eye as he rose to P2, displacing the Italian and looked on course to take provisional time, but unfortunately he was caught in traffic after posting two purple sectors.
Tuscher climbed to the top spot, before Antonio Fuoco and then Ocon displaced the Swiss driver. Series leader Ghiotto was soon back up the sharp end, lapping in the 1m54’s as the times continued to tumble down as it was clear to  everyone that pole was going to be set at the very end of the session on a drying track.
Ocon retaliated and was back in P1 by six tenths of a second, before Ceccon found some extra pace to briefly hold command of the timesheet. However, the Frenchman looked ominous and wanted to reclaim provisional pole and dipped into the 1m53’s at the chequered flag, with a perfectly timed lap.
Ocon recorded his debut pole in the category ahead of Tuscher, whose P2 on the grid is a career best. Ceccon in third also enjoys his best qualifying of the season ahead of Alex Palou (Campos Racing), Mardenborough, Matthew Parry, Ghiotto, Emil Bernstorff, Fuoco and Morris.
Catch the forty-minute long race at the earlier than usual time of 13:30.