Kari grabs the honours in free practice, Maini 9th fastest: GP3 Series

By | November 24, 2017
Niko Kari has laid down a marker for his rivals for the final round of the 2017 season by claiming the top spot on his final lap of the Yas Marina Circuit in this morning’s free practice session, biding his time before claiming the honours when his rivals had no chance to usurp him for a lap time that was less than a tenth faster than Dorian Boccolacci and Nirei Fukuzumi. Meanwhile, Indian driver Arjun Maini of Jenzer Motorsports, was 9th fastest.
The Finn’s best time of 1:55.796 after the chequered flag had dropped was the quickest of a string of fast laps that came in the final minutes of a session which saw times tumbling throughout but was otherwise quiet, with no major off-track drama given the short gap before this afternoon’s qualifying session.
The track opened to warm and sunny conditions, with a number of drivers spending time on the top of the timesheets: Fukuzumi was the first person under the 2 minute mark with Kari, Dan Ticktum and Leonardo Pulcini swapping P1 between them until Boccolacci grabbed the top spot just before the 20 minute mark and held on until late into the session as everyone worked on their race simulations.
With 5 minutes remaining everyone turned up the wick once more: Anthoine Hubert picked up the pace ahead of a string of drivers swapping the top spot between them, with Giuliano Alesi, Kevin Joerg, George Russell, Kari and Fukuzumi rotating through before Boccolacci reclaimed P1 with 2 minutes remaining. Ticktum went purple in sector 1, soon overtaken by Boccolacci, and it looked like the Frenchman had done enough as he slowed in the 2nd sector only to hear that Kari had claimed P1, leaving him no time to improve as he rolled to the flag.
Behind the top 3 Ticktum, Russell, Hubert, Raoul Hyman, Pulcini and Arjun Maini were among the 14 drivers within a second of the top spot, promising fireworks in this afternoon’s qualifying session in just a few hours’ time.
Provisional Qualifying Classification
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Niko KARI
Arden International
1:55.796
19
2.
Dorian BOCCOLACCI
Trident
1:55.865
18
3.
Nirei FUKUZUMI
ART Grand Prix
1:55.886
18
4.
Daniel TICKTUM
DAMS
1:56.006
16
5.
George RUSSELL
ART Grand Prix
1:56.071
18
6.
Anthoine HUBERT
ART Grand Prix
1:56.159
18
7.
Raoul HYMAN
Campos Racing
1:56.225
16
8.
Leonardo PULCINI
Arden International
1:56.323
19
9.
Arjun MAINI
Jenzer Motorsport
1:56.558
18
10.
Steijn SCHOTHORST
Arden International
1:56.607
19
11.
Marcos SIEBERT
Campos Racing
1:56.608
17
12.
Kevin JOERG
Trident
1:56.612
17
13.
Giuliano ALESI
Trident
1:56.640
17
14.
Jack AITKEN
ART Grand Prix
1:56.641
18
15.
Ryan TVETER
Trident
1:57.068
16
16.
Bruno BAPTISTA
DAMS
1:57.255
18
17.
Juan Manuel CORREA
Jenzer Motorsport
1:57.885
18
18.
Alessio LORANDI
Jenzer Motorsport
1:58.723
18
19.
Julien FALCHERO
Campos Racing
1:58.820
14
20.
Tatiana CALDERON
DAMS
1:59.345
9