Manama: Jolyon Palmer captured the season-opening pole position as the GP2 Series kicked off its 10th season on Friday.
The DAMS ace pipped ART Grand Prix rival Steffon Vandoorne by just three-hundredths of a second to take the front spot on the grid.
Qualifying in the second row were Daniel Abt of Hilmer Motorsport, who clocked a best lap 0.208s slower, while Palmer’s teammate Stephane Richelmi was 0.216s back.
The events kicked off the 10th season of GP2, which has established itself as motorsport’s leading Formula One feeder series.
Earlier on Friday, Mitch Evans of RT Russian Time set the pace in practice. Evans registered a best lap of 1:42.062.
Vandoorne followed 0.062s behind the leader, while Raffaele Marciello of Racing Engineering was 0.207s adrift.
Meanwhile, recently crowned champion Zaid Ashkanani of Kuwait led Bahraini stars Shaikh Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa and Mohammad Mattar in the top three of the timesheet during Friday’s practice session for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
The Porsches are running an exhibition round in support of this year’s Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ashkanani continued from where he ended the 2013-2014 season — at the very top. The talented youngster had a best lap time of 2:03.650 to occupy first place.
Shaikh Salman tried to keep up, but had to settle for second and a 0.806s gap, while Mattar finished 0.998s from Ashkanani.
Fahad Algosaibi (+1.029s) followed in fourth position, Saeed Al Mehairi (+1.502s) was fifth and Charlie Frijns (+1.910s) was in sixth.
A total of 14 drivers are taking part in the Porsche event this weekend.