Find out more about our subscriptions

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."

  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Toyota: Kunimoto can be major star
Q & A with Keisuke Kunimoto
Mortara says damage ended hopes
Bird gutted after early Macau exit
Kunimoto admits win was unexpected
Kunimoto takes surprise Macau win
Turvey pleased with day's progress
Q & A with Edoardo Mortara
Mortara: I learned from last year
Van Dam rues first lap accidents
Mortara wins qualification race
Interview with Carlo van Dam
Mortara disappointed with third
Van Dam: I knew pole was possible
Van Dam grabs last-gasp Macau pole
Mortara on top again in practice
Maki declared fit for qualifying day
Matsushita gets grid penalty
Jakes confident despite shunt
Mortara encouraged by early pace
Mortara takes provisional pole
Maki ruled out of first qualifying
Mortara quickest in first practice
Bianchi wants to emulate grandfather
Hartley keen to end season on a high
Q & A with Jaime Alguersuari
Alguersuari targets rookie Macau win