Courtney's provisional pole

James Courtney left it until the dying seconds of an incident-filled first qualifying session for the 50th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix to secure provisional pole position. The TOM'S driver matched his top form of morning practice to pip Brazilian Fabio Carbone on his final lap of the session

Courtney's provisional pole

Courtney was delighted with his pace and admitted that his confidence was increasing because of the good set-up his team had found. He said: "I pushed a little bit hard at the end but we didn't use new tyres whereas some other people did. The car is working well, which gives me more confidence to push, but I won't give it 100 percent until final qualifying."

Carbone had pressed Courtney hard and, although he ended the session 0.603 seconds behind, he was optimistic of a good showing in Friday's final qualifying. He said: "This result is a really good motivation for the team and I think we can do a good job in final qualifying. We've got a good set-up and it's been a positive day."

German Pierre Kaffer had no complaints about his car as he set the fourth fastest time, ahead of Japanese Tatsuya Kataoka and Dutchman Robert Doornbos, who believed he could have gone quicker if he had not had a moment on his fastest lap. Paolo Montin, who was seventh fastest behind Nicolas Lapierre, resolved the ride height issue that had slowed him in morning practice but believed other improvements needed to be made.

The qualifying session was marred by several spectacular accidents - which caused two red flags to be brought out. Just ten minutes into the session Ernesto Viso spun at Police Bend and came to rest sideways before Robert Kubica crashed into the barriers avoiding him and blocked the track. Then with just 15 minutes to go Pedro Barral spun on the run down to the Melco Hairpin and blocked the track again.

Nelson Piquet Jr, who was an impressive eighth fastest on his first visit to the track, had to sit out the final minutes of qualifying after a spectacular brush with the barriers at R-Bend that ripped off the left rear corner of his car. Ryan Briscoe also spun but only tapped the barriers.

Briton Lewis Hamilton, who had crashed heavily in morning practice after a collision with Tatsuya Kataoka, fell foul of the barriers at Lisboa. He said: "I made a mistake but I don't really know what happened. I didn't feel I was going that quickly and it's a shame because the pace of the car wasn't too bad."

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