Frenchman Esteban Ocon was on a mission today in Sakhir: The ART Grand Prix ace recorded the best time in Free Practice and then went on to claim pole position by over half a second on his first visit to the Bahraini track. The four points scored for pole has proved pivotal with the Mercedes junior now taking the lead in the title battle by two points. His fellow title contender Luca Ghiotto produced a last minute effort to sneak into second, ahead of Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon in third.
Emil Bernstorff was first to set the pace in the thirty minute qualifying session before Ghiotto took control lapping a tenth faster. There was a short stoppage in proceedings after Russian rookie Matevos Isaakyan stopped at Turn 10 in the Koiranen GP car.
Once the action resumed, Ocon joined Bernstorff and Ghiotto with a laptime in the 1m47’s to post the third fastest time. Once the drivers pitted for fresh Pirelli rubber, Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon displaced Ocon for third with the top four drivers covered by a mere 0.281s.
Soon after, Campos Racing’s Alex Palou flew into provisional pole position, lapping almost half a second quicker than Ghiotto with five minutes left on the clock. ART Grand Prix’s Marvin Kirchhöfer found some extra pace and challenged the Spaniard for pole but was 0.041 shy and had to settle for second.
Ocon continued to show his form from this morning’s Free Practice session as he returned to the top of the timesheet – and was first to dip into the 1m46’s. Ceccon improved to second, putting his track knowledge to good use; but only for a matter of seconds, as Ghiotto clocked a laptime 0.009s quicker than his fellow compatriot to take second position in the dying stages.
At the chequered flag, Ocon achieved his second consecutive pole in GP3 ahead of his main competitor Ghiotto. Ceccon, Palou, Kirchhöfer, Artur Janosz, Bernstorff, Jann Mardenborough, Jimmy Eriksson and Antonio Fuoco completed the top ten.
Catch the forty-minute long race tomorrow (Friday) at 13:20 local time (GMT+3).