F2, Sakhir, Qual.: Pourchaire in class of one in Sakhir
Martins 2nd, Verschoor 3rd
Théo Pourchaire got his 2023 campaign off to a flying start, dominating Qualifying to take pole position by 0.7s from teammate Victor Martins. The ART Grand Prix duo carried over their speed from Practice, locking out the front row for the Feature Race.
With tyre preparation laps out of the way, Ralph Boschung was the first driver to lay down a benchmark to beat. His 1:42.010 was two-tenths quicker than anybody until Pourchaire completed his initial effort to go P1 and immediately into the 1:41s. The ART driver put in three purple sectors to go almost half a second clear on a 1:41.530 with 10 minutes gone.
Still on their first set of tyres, the second attempts filtered through with a few improvements further back as Arthur Leclerc moved up to third in his DAMS. That was until Martins improved to third himself, leaving Boschung as the only car ahead of an ART in second. His Campos Racing teammate Kush Maini was sixth at the halfway mark with Jack Doohan, Zane Maloney, Oliver Bearman and Richard Verschoor making up the rest of the top 10.
Doohan opted to run in the gap while the track was quiet and moved himself into fourth with just over 10 minutes remaining of Qualifying. A small lock-up at Turn 10 left him 0.582s down on Pourchaire’s provisional pole time.
Boschung once again kicked off the improvements on the second runs and there were plenty of personal bests behind him too. Maini moved himself up to second before Verschoor displaced him on the front row. Further back though Pourchaire was flying once again. The ART driver nailed his second lap and went nine-tenths of a second clear of anybody in P1. Martins made it another ART 1-2 after his earlier Practice effort, but he too was some 0.7s down on his teammate.
There were a few further attempts on the second set of tyres, but nobody could catch Pourchaire. Martins had been set to improve but ran wide at Turn 11, forcing him to give up on his subsequent attempt. Verschoor kept his P3 spot ahead of Hauger and Frederik Vesti. Maini ended his first F2 Qualifying session sixth ahead of Ayumu Iwasa, Leclerc, Roman Stanek and Boschung, who will start on reverse grid pole for the Sprint Race.
Saturday’s Sprint Race is scheduled to begin at 19:15 local time.
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