Josep María Martí gave the Spanish fans plenty to celebrate by securing his maiden Formula 3 pole position on home soil. A nip-and-tuck session went all the way down to the final attempt, with the Campos Racing driver’s 1:27.587 beating out Jenzer Motorsport’s Taylor Barnard and Franco Colapinto for MP Motorsport by two-and-a-half tenths.
As dark clouds loomed worryingly overhead, the field opted to head out at the first opportunity, with Martí heading the queue. With little breathing space around the 4.657km circuit, drivers duelled for track position before they fired up for their first flying laps.
Keeping things neat and tidy, Leonardo Fornaroli briefly nabbed the fastest lap, but Paul Aron quickly shot up into P1 with a 1:28.369, going over a tenth quicker than the Trident driver. Dino Beganovic also moved his PREMA up inside the top three.
Banker laps in the bag, drivers peeled into pits to change on to a fresh set of hard tyres and returned to the track with 18 minutes remaining. Colapinto went out front with a 1:28.233, despite the MP Motorsport driver finding traffic through the final few corners. Aron swiftly responded by reclaiming the top spot momentarily, before Martí, Sebastián Montoya and Barnard demoted the Mercedes junior to fourth.
Less than a second separated the top 20 and so it all came down to one final shot. Beganovic threw down the gauntlet first, breaking into the 1:27s. However, the #23 Campos of Martí was flying, going purple in the first two sectors to snatch provisional pole position and with no further improvements in the closing two minutes, his job was done.
Practice pace-setter Barnard continued his upward momentum with his last flying lap scoring him his best ever Qualifying result in second, while Colapinto took third. Beganovic and Aron secured their spots in the top five ahead of Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto. Montoya beat Mari Boya and Fornaroli for seventh, whilst Grégoire Saucy completed the top 10 for ART Grand Prix.
Zak O’Sullivan and Luke Browning will line up in an all-Williams junior reverse grid front row for Saturday’s Sprint Race. The PREMA Racing driver will be on pole when things underway at 10:30 local time.