British Formula 3 Championship leader Daniel Ricciardo claimed his second consecutive pole position by topping the times in a crash-hit first qualifying session at Spa this evening.
The first dry running of the weekend prompted a dash into the unknown for much of the field and several incidents disrupted the session.
National Class racer Max Snegirev (West-Tec) brought out an early red flag when he clouted the wall hard at the downhill left-hander before Pouhon with only a third of the session run.
When qualifying resumed, early pacesetter Ricciardo banged in a couple of quick laps to tighten his grip on the top spot in the middle third of the half hour session. The Red Bull-backed Australian lapped the circuit in a 2m14.937s best and was the only driver to dip below 2m15s.
Donington Park winner Wayne Boyd went off at Pouhon with a third of the session to run, bringing out yellow flags and ruining many drivers' chances of challenging Ricciardo.
No sooner had the track gone green again when Boyd's T-Sport team-mate Gabriel Dias shunted heavily at the same spot as Snegirev had crashed earlier, having just set National Class pole. His accident brought out more yellow flags that effectively ended the session by forcing drivers to back off in the middle sector.
"We weren't sure whether it was going to rain or not, so I just had to go straight out and push hard, but getting a lap in before the yellows was also good," said Ricciardo.
"The tires came in pretty quick and for my first dry session at Spa in F3 that felt good. It was hard to tell what set up to run from this morning, so I just told the guys to go with what they know. [Oliver] Turvey got pole here last year, so we have a pretty good basic car."
Ricciardo's Carlin teammate Max Chilton echoed that sentiment and boosted his confidence by setting second-fastest time, just three tenths slower than Ricciardo.
Practice pacesetter Renger van der Zande (Hitech) set an early lap good enough for third, but found his best chances of nabbing pole spoiled by the yellow flags and wound up over half a second adrift of Ricciardo.
Welsh privateer Hywel Lloyd produced by far his strongest qualifying performance of the season to set fourth-fastest time for CF Racing. Afterwards he praised the strength of his Mugen-Honda power plant on Spa's long straights and called the result a "big boost for the whole team."
F3 Euro Series points leader Jules Bianchi (ART) and British F3 title challenger Walter Grubmuller (Hitech) rounded out the top six, while reigning Master of F3 Valtteri Bottas (ART) wound up seventh following a puncture.TIMES:
Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1. Daniel Ricciardo Carlin D/V 2m14.937s
2. Max Chilton Carlin D/V 2m15.237s + 0.300s
3. Renger van der Zande Hitech D/M 2m15.495s + 0.558s
4. Hywel Lloyd CF D/H 2m15.707s + 0.770s
5. Jules Bianchi ART D/M 2m15.754s + 0.817s
6. Walter Grubmuller Hitech D/M 2m15.906s + 0.969s
7. Valtteri Bottas ART D/M 2m15.947s + 1.010s
8. Daisuke Nakajima Double R D/M 2m16.035s + 1.098s
9. Carlos Huertas Double R D/M 2m16.074s + 1.137s
10. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin D/V 2m16.114s + 1.177s
11. Adriano Buzaid T-Sport D/V 2m16.212s + 1.275s
12. Riki Christodoulou Fortec D/M 2m16.342s + 1.405s
13. Wayne Boyd T-Sport D/V 2m16.361s + 1.424s
14. Gabriel Dias T-Sport D/H 2m16.441s + 1.504s
15. Daniel McKenzie Fortec D/H 2m16.706s + 1.769s
16. Jay Bridger Litespeed M/M 2m16.721s + 1.784s
17. Henry Arundel Carlin D/V 2m16.895s + 1.958s
18. Esteban Gutierrez ART D/M 2m16.936s + 1.999s
19. Victor Garcia Fortec D/M 2m17.128s + 2.191s
20. Philip Major Carlin D/V 2m17.273s + 2.336s
21. Stephane Richelmi Barazi Epsilon D/M 2m18.699s + 3.762s
22. Nicolas Marroc Racing Experience D/M 2m19.510s + 4.573s
23. Kevin Chen Double R D/M 2m19.526s + 4.589s
24. Victor Correa Litespeed S/H 2m20.526s + 5.589s
25. Maxim Snegirev West-Tec D/H 2m21.677s + 6.740s