Montin pips Karthikeyan to provisional pole

Italian Paulo Montin claimed provisional pole position for the Macau Grand Prix after a late charge to the top spot during Thursday's first qualifying session.

Montin pips Karthikeyan to provisional pole

The Target Racing driver had been consistenly within the top five times through the incident-filled session and set his best lap with just three minutes remaining to deny Indian Narain Karthikeyan pole position by three tenths of a second.

"I am obviously very happy," said Montin. "The car was very good and what makes this result even more special is that I lost some time this morning with a fuel pump problem. I am here to win the race and I've worked so hard to make sure that I can do it. I think the result today shows that we have every reason to feel confident."

Karthikeyan was not too disappointed about being knocked off the top spot, and was happy to still be running after hitting the wall early in the session. "I just brushed it with the rear-end at Moorish," said the Carlin driver. "I am hopeful that tomorrow we can make the car better. We will be sorting out the engine-mapping tonight, so I should have a bit more for final qualifying."

Frenchman Jonathan Cochet was confident that he could have done better than third place and blamed traffic for losing out in the final minutes of the session. "There were a lot of drivers out there going around quite slowly trying to find a gap," he said. "I lost about seven quick laps when I got stuck behind these drivers, but on my one quick lap I really pushed. I am quite happy, but we will need to improve the car if we are going to keep this position tomorrow."

Japan's Takuma Sato, who had set the pace in Thursday morning's free practice session, was slowed by a broken engine near the end of the session and could not improve on his best time which was good enough for fourth. "I believe I could have been at the front if that hadn't happened," he said. "I am disappointed, but at least I am at the right end of the grid."

Robert Lechner was fifth quickest, ahead of Gianmaria Bruni, who impressed on his first visit to Macau before crashing into the barriers at Lisboa near the end of the session. Several other drivers hit trouble on the challenging circuit. Tiago Monteiro caused the red flag to be brought out after five minutes when he crashed at the final corner. That bend also caught out Toshihiro Kaneishi and Seiji Ara, who brought the session to a close when his car was left stranded on the racing line in the dying seconds.

There was disappointment for the British drivers. Ben Collins ended up 15th quickest while Andy Priaulx was 21st.

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