Loic Duval made the most of his move to the crack ASM F3 team ahead of the Macau Grand Prix, using Mercedes power to steal pole position in the second of two qualifying sessions and setting himself up to become the third French winner of the event in as many years.

Duval, who formerly drove for Signature Plus against ASM in the F3 Euroseries, out-paced the consistent Lucas di Grassi by more than half a second to secure the coveted top spot ahead of Sunday's street classic, and will be joined by the Brazilian on the front row. Friday polesitter Robert Kubica bettered his provisional time, but had, initially, to settle for third spot.

Duval overcame the distractions caused by four red-flag incidents to snatch the top-spot with eleven minutes of qualifying remaining.

"It was a very difficult session and there was a lot of traffic, but I felt I could be on pole here," Duval said, aware that he stands on the edge of joining Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Premat on the list of recent winners, "I also know it is sometimes not best to be on pole position for the first race, because of the long straight after the start, but I still hope to have a good result."

di Grassi claimed second spot with a last-minute lap, but was later moved back two places after the stewards deleted his two best times for ignoring yellow flags. That left provisional pole man Kubica with second spot on the grid, ahead of Britain's Mike Conway.

"I had just two free laps during the course of the qualifying session - the first one early in the session and the second one in the closing stages - and only the latter worked fine," di Grassi revealed, prior to being informed that neither would count towards his grid position, "It's important to be on the first two rows here as this offers you the best chance of being on top following turn one."

Kubica was slightly disappointed to have lost his provisional pole slot, but was realistic enough to know that the race could still go his way, having performed equally well last season, only to finish second to Premat on race day.

"The result for us is really good, and starting second is not too bad," he said, after the grid had been reshuffled.

Conway did not know whether to be happy or sad with his third position on the grid, having crashed into the barriers at Police immediately after setting his best time - which had briefly helped him top the timesheets.

"I did a 2min 12secs lap and, after that, was just pushing a little bit too hard," he admitted, "It is my first time here, and I am happy with the result, but, had that incident not happened, then I know I could have been a lot quicker."

The session was stopped four times because of incidents, with veteran Fabio Carbone causing the first when he spun and stopped in the middle of the circuit after clipping the barriers on the exit of Reservoir Bend. Dan Clarke, Filip Salaquarda and Guillaume Moreau combined to cause the second stoppage when they collided at Police almost immediately after the first restart, while Charlie Kimball brought out the red flags for the third time when he spun at Police and blocked the track. The final crash, which brought the session to an early end and led to di Grassi's penalty, was caused by Joao Paolo de Oliveira, who had earlier topped morning practice and was confident of a good grid slot.

Carbone was among five drivers not to improve their time in the generally quicker second session, dropping himself to ninth on the first race grid. Rookie Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna and local drivers Lei Kit Meng and Jo Merszei were the others not to go quicker.

Behind the now fourth-placed di Grassi, Frank Perera atoned for not setting a time at all in Thursday qualifying by vaulting up to fifth fastest on the combined list, edging Macau stalwart Paolo Montin to outside of row three. The top ten was completed by de Oliveira, TOM's team-mate Kazuki Nakajima, and Moreau.

"Following this morning's free practice session, we knew that fifth grid position was within our reach," Perera insisted, "We succeeded in achieving this goal, but I had just one free lap - my last one."

The second ASM entry, driven by Sebastien Vettel, improved during the second session, but could rise no higher than twelfth on the combined times and will share row six with Naoki Yokomizo. Kimball, Clarke and Salaquarda eventually placed 13th, 19th and 26th after their indiscretions. Danny Watts finished 14th, one place ahead of morning crasher Christian Bakkerud, while Steven Kane, who suffered an oil leak after one lap of qualifying on Thursday, found enough time to climb to 24th in the sole Lola.

"The loss of track time really hurts you here, and I also had a brush with the wall in practice this morning," the Irishman admitted, "We are still trying to find a decent set-up, and the understeer I had in the morning just caused me to run wide.

"I was pushing hard when it happened, but we still hadn't got the car fully dialled in because of the session we lost yesterday. I just clipped the wall, but it took the studs out of the gearbox. The warm-up and qualification race are now vital."


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