Release No: 13
Date: November 15, 2002
MACAU F3 GRAND PRIX
MONTIN GRABS POLE POSITION FOR MACAU GRAND PRIX
Italian Paolo Montin secured pole position for the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix on Friday during a thrilling final qualifying session. The TOM'S driver, runner up in this year's Japanese F3 championship, edged out Frenchman Tristan Gommendy by 0.662 seconds to secure his first top grid position in five attempts at the event.
Montin had moved to the top of the time sheets after 14 minutes of the session, just jumping clear of provisional pole position man Matsuura. Despite the best efforts of his rivals, Montin's best lap of two minutes 14.995 seconds was enough to secure the crucial top spot for Sunday's double-header.
"It was certainly not easy but from the start of practice yesterday we have done a really good job," said Montin. "In every session we have been near the top and when it mattered I managed to achieve everything very nicely here. I got some perfect laps in the second session and was helped with a slipstream on my fastest lap."
Gommendy was delighted with his second place, but was left kicking himself when he crashed out as he attempted to go even quicker. The French Formula 3 champion had been challenging for the top position for much of the session and made the most of a red flag period near the end to make some changes to his car.
The session had had to be stopped for several minutes following a spectacular accident by Ronnie Bremer, who had also crashed in first qualifying on Thursday. The Danish driver lost control of his car at the final corner of the track and smashed into the barriers, ripping two wheels off and badly damaging the left hand side of his car.
Gommendy returned to the track at the restart to set his best lap of 2m15.657 seconds before crashing out in the complex of corners at the top of the hill. He damaged the right hand side of the car.
He said: "I think it was a good lap when I went off and probably good enough for pole position, but I have to be happy because getting on the front row is very important. Macau is the most important race in F3 and important for my future, so all I am thinking about now is making a good start - and then we will see."
Japanese Kousuke Matsuura ended qualifying in third position, despite having held provisional pole position on Thursday. He was the only driver in the top 26 not to improve on his time from the first qualifying session and blamed problems with the car.
"I wanted a similar set-up to yesterday but the car just didn't feel the same," said the runner-up in this year's German Formula 3 championship. "By the time I managed to get the car right it was unfortunately too late. But I am looking forward to the race, even though I think it will be a difficult run down to Lisboa."
Finn Heikki Kovalainen secured fourth position for Fortec Motorsport, ahead of Carlin Motorsport's Narain Karthikeyan and Frenchman Olivier Pla, the leading rookie.
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