Abu Dhabi - UAE

Renaud Kuppens

A superb Kuppens

A monster lap by Renaud Kuppens saw him pocket pole position for Race 2. The Belgian put his below-par performance in the first session behind him to seize control here.

All he needed was three laps: on lap 1 he clocked 2:20.400 before breaking the 2:20 barrier with an exceptional 2:19.887.

Kuppens was the only driver in either session to dip under 2.20 at Yas Marina. His drive was even more impressive as Abu Dhabi is a technically demanding circuit that ups the excitement levels, even in qualifying. Once again things were close with the top five just five tenths apart.

With pole out of reach, Mac and Barde had to contest second spot. In the end the Frenchman (2:20.322), came out on top but the Dane set his 2:20.418 in only four laps. The extra four laps run by Barde could prove decisive come race time.

Calamia, Zamparini and Fascicolo, two tenths apart, contested fourth slot with the Swiss Team driver edging it to finish 1.207 off Kuppens’ time. Calamia showed how at home he felt on the circuit as he trumped Patrick Zamaparini, another driver who knows the layout well having competed in the 2011 Middle East series. Giuseppe Fascicolo has set things up nicely after a disappointing weekend in China. He is in touch with the leaders but will have to cope with two tough cookies in Riccardo Ragazzi and Mario Cordoni just behind him.

The top ten was completed by Andreas Segler and Max Braams; Braams is making his debut. Segler, another Trofeo Middle East veteran, will be able to count on his inside knowledge of the track and will be competitive.

Adrian De Leener and Patrick Gobbo, racing here without his usual partner Alberto Cola, occupy eleventh and twelfth, respectively. Next up are Bocellari and Shovlin. Session 2 also saw the drivers in midfield set very similar lap times with six drivers within 1.5 seconds of each other: Lino Curti, Tani Hanna, Ermanno Dionisio, Piero Foglio, Christian Overgaard and Per Nielsen.


Cecchellero takes pole

Andrea Cecchellero was the quickest driver on the track in the twenty-minute qualifying session to decide the Race 1 grid.

Cecchellero, from Veneto, who is racing with Giuseppe Fascicolo in the Trofeo Maserati, stopped the clock at 2.20.545, .019 up on Cedric Sbirrazzuoli. Today's flawless lap at Yas Marina saw him repeat his pole position at Silverstone, a weekend on which he secured his first win in the series.

It was an exciting tussle for pole between the drivers chasing top spot: five were within .20 of each other and eight within 1.2 seconds. Behind Sbirrazzuoli (2:20.564) came Frenchman Ange Barde, .076 off pole, with Mauro Calamia (2:20.718) following up.

Towards the end of the session the Swiss driver fell from first to fourth but managed to hold off Renaud Kuppens (2:20.732) and Patrick Zamparini (2:21.267), who share row three.

Tucked in behind Kuppens, in seventh, will be his rival Mikkel Mac (2:21.301) as the Dane could not improve on his fine free practice form. Alongside him will be Alan Simoni (2:21.771) with Mario Cordoni and Sandro Bettini taking a surprising ninth and tenth.


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