Luke grabs pole for Macau GP qualification race

Rising star Luke Browning carried his strong form from Thursday into the second day of running for the Macau Grand Prix, with the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver grabbing a stunning pole position for the qualifying race.

Having gone second quickest to former team-mate Gabriele Mini in the opening qualifying session on Thursday, Luke went into the Friday running amongst the fancied runners to grab pole position with a second qualifying session still to run.

Prior to that however, drivers had a second free practice session, which wouldn’t pass without a brief scare for Luke as the Williams Academy driver ran straight on at Lisboa to bring out a Virtual Safety Car.

Having avoided the barriers, Luke was able to get the car back on track to resume the session and it would only be in the final five minutes that he was able to set a representative lap time due to several red flag stoppages for incidents elsewhere.

Having hit the front as the clock ticked down, Luke would end up second fastest as – for the third successive session – he was pipped to top spot in the final moments as Paul Aron this time edged ahead.

With a solid banker lap underneath him from Thursday, Luke then hit the track for Q2 later in the day and it would prove to be another session hampered by red flags. The first came before Luke had been able to set a really quick time but the Briton then produced a storming lap to go half a second faster than he had on Thursday – putting him ahead of Mini’s Q1 time onto provisional pole.

A further red flag moments later resulted in the drivers being forced back into the pits and set up a five-minute shootout to decide the final grid, with Luke sitting pretty at the top but with an advantage of just 0.006s over Mini, who had also improved before the second stoppage.

Given the length of the Guia circuit, only one timed lap would be possible for each driver on the final run and both Luke and Mini were on quick times when Isack Hadjar clattered into the barriers on the exit of Moorish corner to bring out the red flags for a third time with just 28 seconds remaining on the clock.

With no time to restart as a result, it gave Luke a stunning pole position and will mean he leads the field away for the qualifying race on Saturday, which will determine the starting grid for the Macau GP itself on Sunday.

“I’m elated of course to score pole on my Macau debut,” he said. “The guys at Hitech have done a great job and the car was on fire. This place is like Monaco on steroids with buildings flying by and I was just enjoying myself with a huge smile on my face.

“I’ve done close to 1000 laps on a sim at home and looked at as many onboards as I can, but this place in an animal and you have to turn it on. No amount of preparation can prepare you for this circuit, and it feels special.”