Nov 24

GP3: Kari grabs the honours in free practice

Finn flies to fastest lap in Abu Dhabi

Kari grabs the honours in free practice

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 laptime that was less than a tenth faster than Dorian Boccolacci and Nirei Fukuzumi.

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

source: GP3 Series, gp3series.com