Edoardo Mortara secured provisional pole position for the Windsor Arch F3 Macau Grand Prix in first qualifying but was left frustrated after damaging his Signature-Plus Dallara later in the session.
The Italian had been fastest in the morning practice and maintained his pace throughout an incident-filled qualifying session as he steadily improved his lap time.
However, qualifying came to an abrupt end for the F3 Euroseries runner with little more than a minute remaining when he was unable to avoid the car of Masaka Matsushita, who had spun at Police, and made contact with the Ombra Racing car.
It left Mortara with mixed emotions following the session as, while pleased to have taken pole, he was also disappointed to have damaged the nose of his car in an incident that brought the session to an early end.
“It was really disappointing,” Mortara, who posted a best time of 2min 12.416secs, said. “I was right behind him when he went off, and there was no warning and nothing I could do. Luckily I hit him square on, so the only damage is to the nose. The car should be repaired for the morning.”
Japanese F3 champion Carlo van Dam was second fastest, three-tenths of a second further back, but was well aware that things could well change in the second qualifying session on Friday.
“It is nice to be strong here, but what really counts is final qualifying tomorrow and then the races,” he said. “We are well prepared.”
Roberto Streit was third fastest for Raikkonen-Robertson Racing, with Brendon Hartley recovering from gearbox problems that had cost cost him track time in the morning practice session to set the fourth best time. Renger van der Zande was fifth, while new British F3 champion Jaime Alguersuari was the fastest rookie in sixth spot.
The session was red flagged two times prior to the final incident involving Mortara and Matsushita. James Jakes was pushing hard to improve his pace when he spun into the barriers at R-Bend after 17 minutes, while Nicola de Marco also crashed at the same spot following the restart.
Mortara had been the man to beat all day having earlier set the pace in the Thursday morning free practice session.