Briton takes second pole of season ahead of Vasiliauskas and Bailly
Dean Stoneman stormed to his second pole of the season in the first qualifying session at Zolder, the Briton topping the timesheets for almost the entire session as he forced home his dominance on the rest of the field.
Several drivers came close to Stoneman’s benchmark in the final minutes of a frantic first session, with Kazim Vasiliauskas eventually finishing second fastest, little over two tenths behind. Benjamin Bailly will start third on the grid for tomorrow’s opening race, as the Belgian driver continues to impress at his home circuit.
Stoneman dominated throughout the 30 minutes of running and held an advantage of more than seven tenths in the early stages. Bailly bridged the gap in the final ten minutes, jumping ahead of Vasiliauskas by just 0.001s. The Lithuanian responded on his last lap to retake second position, although he fell short of Stoneman’s benchmark by nearly quarter of a second.
Armaan Ebrahim took an impressive fourth – his best qualifying position in his Formula Two career so far. Championship leader Jolyon Palmer claimed fifth ahead of a charging Nicola De Marco, who set his fastest lap time as the chequered flag waved.
Ivan Samarin was another driver who enjoyed his best session of the season – the Russian will line up seventh ahead of championship challenger Philipp Eng. The Austrian driver eventually gave up on trying to improve as he pitted with around five minutes of the session remaining.
British duo Will Bratt and Jack Clarke rounded out the top ten, whilst there was drama for a number of racers further down the order. Sergey Afanasiev could only manage 11th after a huge spin at the exit of turn eight. Mihai Marinescu, Natalia Kowalska and Parthiva Sureshwaren were amongst those who also endured spins.
Dean Stoneman said: "I am really pleased with that. I was pushing really hard in the early part of the session, but the track just seemed to keep improving. The grip just got better and better and I was able to go even faster later on – it is good news for the championship."