Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente produced a stunning final run in today’s top-six shootout to cap a thrilling BRM Official Qualifying session, setting the fastest time with a 44.54s lap around the five-pin 1.125km circuit on the Krishna River and will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix of India from pole position.
Norway’s Marit Stromoy produced her best qualifying session of the season and went second quickest for Emirates Racing with a 44.72s lap, Abu Dhabi’s Erik Stark sealing third spot with a time of 45.00s.
Torrente was made to work hard for his seventh career-pole and his third of the season, leaving it late into Q2 and sitting outside the top six before jumping to the top of the time sheets to progress into the shootout on his final lap as the clock timed out the 20 minute session, his Abu Dhabi teammates Thani Al Qemzi and Stark locking out the top three spots.
Victory Team’s Alex Carella was the big loser in the middle session after having his best lap time of 46.27s deleted for cutting the course, dropping him to eighth and elevating Stromoy to fourth, Victory’s Ahmed Al Hameli to fifth and handing a lifeline and shootout slot to Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson.
Andersson opened the shootout with a best lap of 45.22s which Al Hameli was unable to better, missing out by a mere one hundredths of a second.
Next out was Stromoy and targeting a first pole position since Portugal in 2011 and immediately posted the fastest time of the day with a staggering 44.72s lap to take the provisional pole. Stark followed and produced his best time on his first run but missed out by 0.26s with Al Thani’s time of 45.06s eventually putting him fourth.
Torrente was last out and the tension mounted as he pulled out of his first run and was suddenly under massive pressure to deliver the team its fourth pole of the season, but then produced a simply breath taking run to snatch pole position from Stromoy by 0.18s. “The whole day was a series of mistakes by me and then to get it done at the last second is great,” Torrente said. “In Q2 I changed to a bigger propeller which I thought I needed and I did. But with less than 30 seconds to go I was out. But I made a good solid lap and went P1. Then in Q3 having seen Marit’s time which was huge I pressed too hard and made a mistake so I aborted and just had to pull out a near perfect lap, which I did.”
It was another massively frustrating day for the CTIC Shenzhen China F1 duo who have been struggling with engine issues and ahead of a race that they really need to be running in the top three or four to keep any flickering title hopes alive, but now face a huge mountain to climb with Peter Morin qualifying in seventh and Philippe Chiappe in tenth behind Blaze Performance’s Francesco Cantando, the man who won in Mumbai in 2004.
Today’s result, with the Abu Dhabi trio starting one-three and four tomorrow, brings the likelihood of them all but closing out the title race a step closer as they bid for an unprecedented third successive Grand Prix podium lockout, the woman standing in their way is Marit Stromoy who is bidding for a second Grand Prix win.
BRM Official Qualifying – Top Six Shootout
1. 6 Shaun Torrente (usa/*uae) – 44.54s
2. 50 Marit Stromoy (nor) – 44.72s
3. 35 Erik Stark (swe/*uae) – 45.00
4. 5 Thani Al Qemzi (uae) – 45.06s
5. 14 Jonas Andersson (swe) – 45.22s
6. 3 Ahmed Al Hameli (uae) – 45.23s
(*denotes international racing super license)