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F3 NEWS 

Mortara on top again in practice

Edoardo Mortara kept up his strong start to the Macau Grand Prix weekend when he topped the times once again in Friday's final free practice session ahead of qualifying.

The Signature-Plus driver, who has been fastest in every session so far this weekend, made the most of a tow from another car down the long straight into Mandarin Bend before setting his best lap ten minutes into practice.

With his car fully repaired after his accident in first qualifying, Mortara admitted to being a little surprised to be fastest overall having spent the session mainly focusing on his race setup.

"Everything was okay," he said. "We just wanted to prepare for the race this morning, so I was not expecting to be first at the end. It looks good for qualifying, the car feels fine and I am happy.

"At the moment, I am not thinking about my rivals too much - all I am thinking about is the lap time. I am expecting a big fight for pole position this afternoon, with a lot of drivers up there going for the top spot."

Mortara's closest rival was once again TOM'S driver Carlo van Dam, and the Japanese F3 champion has closed the gap from three tenths yesterday to 0.117s this morning.

Van Dam was thankful that a braking mistake heading into Lisboa late in the session did not result in him hitting the barriers. Instead, he just went up the escape road and harmlessly came to a stop.

"We've made some good steps with the car, but it is hard to say exactly where we are because the tyres we are using are now quite old," he said. "That was why I pushed a little too hard and made that mistake under braking. But everything looks like it is heading in the right direction."

Italian Kei Cozzolino was third fastest for the Now Motor Sports team, with British F3 champion Jaime Alguersuari fourth quickest - but hitting trouble late on when he crashed at San Francisco Bend, badly damaging the left hand side of his car and ripping off his rear wing.

Alguersuari's accident brought out the second red flag of the session, with practice being stopped earlier after 20 minutes when Nicola de Marco's stranded RC Motorsport car was judged to have been left in a dangerous position after he spun at Fishermen's Bend.

There was more disappointment for Mika Maki, who returned to action for the first time since his sizeable accident in first practice. He suffered a puncture and spent much of the session in the pits.

Pos Driver                  Team          Car    Time         Gap
 1. Edoardo Mortara         Signature     D/V    2:13.054
 2. Carlo van Dam           TOM'S         D/T    2:13.171  +0.117
 3. Kei Cozzolino           Now           D/T    2:14.171  +1.117
 4. Jaime Alguersuari       Carlin        D/M    2:14.245  +1.191
 5. Oliver Turvey           Carlin        D/M    2:14.351  +1.297
 6. Roberto Merhi           Hitech        D/M    2:14.542  +1.488
 7. Brendon Hartley         Carlin        D/M    2:14.616  +1.562
 8. Marcus Ericsson         Carlin        D/M    2:14.709  +1.655
 9. Renger van der Zande    Prema         D/M    2:14.714  +1.660
10. Roberto Streit          Double R      D/M    2:14.775  +1.721
11. Stefano Coletti         Prema         D/M    2:15.082  +2.028
12. Sam Bird                Manor         D/M    2:15.120  +2.066
13. Max Chilton             Hitech        D/M    2:15.383  +2.329
14. Keisuke Kunimoto        TOM'S         D/T    2:15.474  +2.420
15. Atte Mustonen           Double R      D/M    2:15.515  +2.461
16. Franky Cheng            Signature     D/V    2:15.520  +2.466
17. Daniel Campos-Hull      HBR           D/M    2:16.015  +2.961
18. Jules Bianchi           ART           D/M    2:16.049  +2.995
19. Kazuya Oshima           Manor         D/M    2:16.352  +3.298
20. Walter Grubmuller       Hitech        D/M    2:16.918  +3.864
21. James Jakes             ART           D/M    2:17.031  +3.977
22. Mika Maki               Signature     D/M    2:17.102  +4.048
23. James Winslow           Ombra         D/H    2:17.399  +4.345
24. Jon Lancaster           Manor         D/M    2:17.516  +4.462
25. Laurens Vanthoor        RC            D/V    2:17.832  +4.778
26. Koki Saga               Le Beausset   D/T    2:18.284  +5.230
27. Michael Ho              Double R      D/M    2:18.824  +5.770
28. Basil Shaaban           HBR           D/M    2:19.267  +6.213
29. Massaki Matsushita      PTRS/Ombra    D/H    2:19.480  +6.426
30. Nicola de Marco         RC            D/V    2:19.835  +6.781
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