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F3 NEWS 

Bird upbeat despite grid penalty

Sam BirdSam Bird says he was gutted to miss out on a front row start for tomorrow's qualification race of the Macau Grand Prix but is still confident that he can challenge for the victory in Sunday's race.

The Briton was at the top of the timesheet when this afternoon's final qualifying session was stopped with less than four minutes to go, but Japanese F3 champion Carlo van Dam snatched pole with his last lap of the session.

Stefano Coletti spun and blocked the road at Police on that final lap so only the cars ahead of him on the road were able to post a time. Van Dam and his TOM'S teammate Keisuke Kunimoto set the first and third quickest times and Roberto Streit moved up to fifth.

Bird had to abandon his lap when he came across the road block, but still finished the session with the second quickest time. However, he had to take a three-place grid penalty as a punishment for missing a call to the weigh bridge during morning practice.

"I didn't get a clear lap in the first half of the session so I left it to the wire a bit, but I was able to pull a lap out of the bag," said Bird. "It was a reasonable effort, there were a couple of small mistakes, but it was a good lap. Then I was three tenths up on that on the last lap, but the track was blocked so I got stuck in the queue.

"I don't feel like things have really gone my way today and I'm gutted that I won't get to start from the front row tomorrow, but fifth is not too bad and if I can make a little progress tomorrow, I'll be looking good."

But Bird remains positive going into tomorrow's qualification race, encouraged that he has the pace to challenge at the front after a frustrating season in the Euro Series.

"It's lovely to be quick again after a bit of a disappointing year," he added. "Macau is one of those tracks that you just love to drive round. The middle sector in particular is just something else. It's unreal, you'll never have more fun as a driver."

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