Nelson Piquet Jr took a surprise pole position in Hong Kong for NEXTEV ahead of his teammate Oliver Turvey in what turned out to be an action packed session.
The inaugural World Champion after a torrid season two took his first pole position, with NEXTEV locking out the front row. It was helped due to a number of lengthy stoppages which meant the ‘Superpole’ at the end of the four qualifying groups was scrapped, leaving the laps drives set as the grid for the race.
Group One included Nico Prost, Stephane Sarrazin, Nick Heidfeld, Loic Duval and Adam Carroll. It was Prost who would set the pace for the field, although not perfect for the Frenchman. It was still faster though than Heidfeld who was initially his nearest challenger although Sarrazin and Carroll were less competitive. It was all down to Duval, and it was a great lap to go one tenth faster than the Renault eDams driver.
Group Two included season two championship challenger Lucas di Grassi, Antonio Felix de Costa, Sam Bird, Ma Qing Hua and Oliver Turvey. As the action was just getting started, hotly tipped di Grassi crashed at the difficult chicane and brought out the red flag. The battle came down between the two British drivers, Bird setting his time first which was faster than Duval, with Turvey going even faster to take the fastest time of the two sessions.
With the delay to the previous session, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans, Felix Rosenqvist, Robin Frijns and Nelson Piquet Jr were in the third group to qualify. As the first to set a time, Rosenqvist’s was a competitive time which was faster than Loic Duval, although the car behind was Nelson Piquet Jr who had a great turn of speed to set 1:03.099 and the fastest time of the session so far.
A crash for Robin Frijns at the chicane brought out the red flag again and, this time, it was a long stoppage. It was luck that it wasn’t made worse, with Vergne narrowly missing the Andretti car on the exit of the corner. Vergne and Evans were able to set their time after the clean up operation had taken place, but could not make an impression at the top of the standings.
Already a long way off schedule, Group Four started with the news that the ‘superpole’ would be cancelled, with Piquet Jr in the provisional pole position. Sebastien Buemi, Daniel Abt, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Maro Engel and Jose-Maria Lopez took to the circuit, with little success at threatening the leading NEXTEV drivers. Lopez set the third fastest time, while Buemi set a time good enough for fifth and poor times from both Engel and D’Ambrosio.