Marta García was in fine form in Qualifying around the Circuit of the Americas, as the series leader secured her fifth pole of the 2023 campaign by over three tenths to Abbi Pulling and Nerea Martí.
Meanwhile, Rodin Carlin’s Jessica Edgar left it right until the last second to take her maiden pole position. Narrowly denying García the P1 spot, just 0.091s separated the top three as Martí put in another strong effort for Campos Racing to take in third.
It was down to Martí to get the first representative time on the board, with Campos Racing teammate Lola Lovinfosse immediately slipping ahead on a 2:09.754.
However, it wasn’t long before García staked her claim on pole with the first 2:08s time of the session. Title rival Léna Bühler wasn’t to be outdone though, lowering the time to beat to 2:08.759.
Improving on her second flying lap, García took control inside the final four minutes on a 2:08.531. Pulling closed to within three thousandths of the Spaniard, but the PREMA driver wasn’t done shaving time off the benchmark. Going faster once more, García’s 2:08.214 proved to be unbeatable, with the Alpine junior and Martí bouncing back to round out the top three.
Bühler kept pace with the trio in fourth ahead of Edgar. Bianca Bustamante and Chloe Chong ensured all the PREMA cars finished inside the top seven ahead of Hamda Al Qubaisi.
The battle for pole was immediately blown wide open as Martí posted a 2:08.975 to lead the way. Pulling then took her turn out front, going over five tenths faster than the initial benchmark.
Improvements showed no signs of stopping as Bühler became the next driver to go fastest on a 2:08:318. Off the back of topping Free Practice 2, Edgar set about making her mark to go top on a 2:08.125, before Martí displaced the Briton by just seven thousandths, despite a lock-up.
García seemed to have wrapped the session up in the final minute of running, setting a 2:08.018. However, sitting in third less than a tenth off the PREMA’s pace, Edgar hadn’t fully shown her hand yet.
As the chequered flag was waved, a last gasp attempt rocketed Edgar to the top of timing sheets, with her 2:07.962 earning her pole by 0.056s.
García will be hunting down her seventh win of the campaign when the lights go out for Race 1 at 09:45 local time on Saturday. Race 2 will follow at 15:30, with Hamda Al Qubaisi getting things underway from reverse grid pole.