Dutchman Patrick Huisman took a thrilling pole position for the Macau Guia race during qualifying on Friday after grabbing the top spot with just 20 seconds of the session remaining
The BMW driver overcame a great battle with fellow Beamer pilot Franz Engstler to clinch the top spot by just two tenths of a second.
"I knew I was able to get pole position, but every time that I got a quicker lap, Franz would beat my time," said Huisman. "I just decided to push really, really hard on my last lap and it was 20 seconds before the chequered flag came out that I got pole. I am very happy with this, but the race is going to be very tough."
Engstler came into the pits a few minutes before the session ended, in a bid to save one set of new tyres for Sunday's race. And although he admitted he did regret not staying out longer after Huisman pipped him to pole position, he was nevertheless happy to be on the front row of the grid.
"We have worked quite hard on the set-up and it was an enjoyable battle with Patrick," explained Engstler. "When I came back to the pits just before the end of the session I was nearly one second quicker and I thought it was enough."
Japan's Orido Manabu lived up to Toyota's pre-race expectations with a strong third place. He was especially pleased with the result after crashing during practice on Thursday. "That accident meant I couldn't set a representative time in qualifying, but the team worked hard overnight on the car to ensure it was perfect for today," he said.
Belgian Vincent Radermecker bounced back from a mechanical problem in this morning's free practice session to set the fourth quickest time, although he was nearly two seconds slower than Huisman's pole position time.
The Peugeot driver steadily improved during the session and was looking forward to Sunday's race: "I am the quickest front-wheel drive car, so I am pretty pleased with that. Lots of things can happen in the race and we will just have to see how it goes."
The qualifying session was stopped twice because of accidents. Briton Richard Meins spun after the first turn and rebounded into both crash barriers. His Ford Focus stopped on the racing line and forced out the red flags. Almost immediately after the restart, Frans Verschuur and Rudiger Julius-Bernhart collided and blocked the track just before Moorish, forcing out the red flags again.
Lei Chong Seng walked away from a high-speed crash on the main straight in his Honda after it turned right into the barriers. Michael Funke hit the wall with the left rear of his Ford Focus and Simon Harrison spun and crashed at Lisboa after he'd set seventh quickest time in his Focus. James Kaye will start 23rd in a Honda Integra; Meins qualified 26th.
1 Patrick Huisman (BMW 320i) 2m41.156s 2 Franz Engstler (BMW 320i) 2m41.392s 3 Orido Manabu (Toyota Altezza) 2m42.051s 4 Vincent Radermecker (Peugeot 306) 2m42.524s 5 C Nattavude (Peugeot 306) 2m43.131s 6 Duncan Huisman (BMW 320i) 2m43.295s 7 Simon Harrison (Ford Focus) 2m43.405s 8 Kurt Mollekens (Peugeot 306) 2m43.604s 9 Henry Lee Jnr. (Peugeot 306) 2m44.343s 10 Charles Kwan (BMW 320i) 2m44.658s
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