Mortara wins qualification race
|By Jonathan Noble and Steven English||Saturday, November 15th 2008, 06:33 GMT|
Edoardo Mortara took a convincing victory in the Macau Grand Prix qualification race on Saturday.
He started third behind TOM'S teammates Carlo van Dam and Keisuke Kunimoto, but capitalised when polesitter van Dam retired on the opening lap.
The Dutchman lost the lead off the line then punctured his left rear tyre when he brushed the wall trying to go three wide with the leaders through the Mandarin kink. Four more cars passed him on the way down to Lisboa, after which he tangled with countryman Renger van der Zande on San Francisco Hill and both retired.
Mortara then chased down Kunimoto during the early stages of the race and made his move to the front around the outside under braking for Lisboa on lap seven.
Once in front, he was easily able to pull clear of the following pack and controlled the rest of the race. He eased off in the closing laps and took the chequered flag just over a second ahead of Kunimoto.
"I am really happy for this victory but today is just the qualifaction race," said Mortara. "My start was a little better than the others so I could take the slipstream of both TOM'S drivers in the first straight.
"I was careful in the first corner but I still nearly hit the wall because the track was so slippery. I was still careful in the first laps and pushed from lap three. Once I was ahead and created a gap it was not so important to push so I controlled the race."
Roberto Streit also closed onto the back of Kunimoto, but he was unable to find a way past in the latter stages of the race. Instead, Streit found himself coming under pressure from Oliver Turvey right behind him, but Turvey was never close enough to make a serious challenge and Streit completed the podium.
Turvey himself had been under pressure from Sam Bird for the majority of the race, but was able to defend his fourth position by placing his car on the inside at Lisboa whenever Bird attacked.
British Formula 3 champion Jaime Alguersuari finished sixth, ahead of Stefano Coletti who was one of several to capitalise on a midfield crash at the start.
Mika Maki lost eighth place on the final lap when he sustained a puncture and had to drive most of the last lap on three wheels. Marcus Ericsson inherited his eighth spot and Maki limped round to finish 16th.
James Jakes and Brendon Hartley were squeezed together against the wall on the run to the first corner and Jakes was pitched across the front of Hartley's car and into the barrier. Jakes retired instantly while Hartley limped back to the pits on three wheels and rejoined three laps down, but later set the fastest lap of the race.
Half a mile later, Jules Bianchi spun on the way into Lisboa and took out a trio of Hitech cars. Max Chilton retired on the spot, but Walter Grubmuller and Roberto Merhi rejoined.
Bianchi's spin triggered another shunt as the tail of the field approached Lisboa. Basil Shaaban hit the back of his teammate, Daniel Campos-Hull, spun into Franky Cheng and the pair squashed Atte Mustonen into the wall as well.
Pos Driver Team Car Gap 1. Edoardo Mortara Signature D/V 29:20.769 2. Keisuke Kunimoto TOM'S D/T +1.189 3. Roberto Streit Double R D/M +2.904 4. Oliver Turvey Carlin D/M +3.364 5. Sam Bird Manor D/M +3.984 6. Jaime Alguersuari Carlin D/M +4.623 7. Stefano Coletti Prema D/M +4.952 8. Marcus Ericsson Carlin D/M +8.799 9. Daniel Campos-Hull HBR D/M +22.448 10. Kei Cozzolino Now D/T +23.056 11. James Winslow Ombra D/H +26.786 12. Laurens Vanthoor RC D/V +28.090 13. Jon Lancaster Manor D/M +42.871 14. Koki Saga Le Beausset D/T +48.578 15. Walter Grubmuller Hitech D/M +49.439 16. Mika Maki Signature D/M +57.740 17. Roberto Merhi Hitech D/M +1:06.943 18. Massaki Matsushita PTRS/Ombra D/H +1:31.545 19. Nicola de Marco RC D/V +1:44.930 20. Brendon Hartley Carlin D/M +3 laps Retirements Michael Ho Double R D/M 7 laps Basil Shaaban HBR D/M 4 laps Kazuya Oshima Manor D/M 3 laps Carlo van Dam TOM'S D/T 3 laps Renger van der Zande Prema D/M 0 laps James Jakes ART D/M 0 laps Max Chilton Hitech D/M 0 laps Jules Bianchi ART D/M 0 laps Franky Cheng Signature D/V 0 laps Atte Mustonen Double R D/M 0 laps Fastest lap, Hartley 2:13.169 on lap 6