Rodin Carlin’s trio were the first to get representative lap times on the board in Qualifying 1, with Megan Gilkes setting a 1:46.681 before Jessica Edgar took an early lead with a 1:43.177.
With six minutes of the 15-minute session remaining, eleven cars were yet to set a meaningful lap, with the expectation that the times would come tumbling down in the final minutes.
Abbi Pulling launched to the top of the standings with a 1:42.425 and was closely followed by ART Grand Prix’s Carrie Schreiner. First to break into the 1:41s was Hamda Al Qubaisi with a 1:41.800, closely followed by teammate de Heus with a 1:41.832.
Pulling struck back with a 1:41.594 before the Dutch and Swiss drivers both responded, with de Heus driver taking pole position with a 1:41.344 and Buhler in P2 with a 1:41.379. Pulling’s time was enough for the Brit to hold onto P3.
Campos Racing’s Nerea Martí classified P8 and will start on reverse grid pole for Race 2, which is set to take place at 15:05 local time.
In a similar style to the first Qualifying session, many drivers waited in their boxes for the opening minutes of Q2, opting to delay their flying laps as the track continued to rubber in.
Campos Racing’s Lola Lovinfosse led the way with a 1:41.681 before Pulling went faster than anyone had in Q1 with a 1:41.290. H. Al Qubaisi and Buhler were the first to break the 1:40s barrier as the field narrowed, the top five separated by just two tenths.
With few able to improve on their personal bests, Bühler set off on her final flying lap. The Swiss driver clocked in a 1:40.870 to take her maiden pole position, and secure front row starts for both Race 1 and Race 3.
Series leader Marta Garcia was forced to settle for P3 in Qualifying 2 and P5 in Qualifying 1 and will be working to protect her 26-point advantage over second placed H. Al Qubaisi.
Léna Bühler, ART Grand Prix – “Today was about whether or not the balance will work or not, but I was really happy as we had good pace. I will start pole position tomorrow and today in P2 so I will try and get my first victory.”
Emely de Heus, MP Motorsport – “It went good for me today, I got my first pole position and sixth in the second qualifying. I am really happy about it because the speed is way better than the other weekends and I having had a bit of bad luck, so I really hope I can get some good points.”
This afternoon will see the drivers out on track for Race 1 at 15:05 before Race 2 gets underway at 18.59. De Heus and Martí will both be looking to secure their first wins of the F1 Academy Season.