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Ticktum beats Ilott to top dramatic opening qualifying session at Macau

by Josh Suttill

Defending Macau Grand Prix champion Dan Ticktum topped an incident-filled opening qualifying session to take provisional pole position for 2018 event.

Charles Leong caused the first red flag of the session – with just over 20 minutes on the clock, the Hitech GP driver hit the barrier on the exit of Police and blocked the track.

His team-mate Enaam Ahmed hit the wall at the same corner in near-identical fashion to Leong, halting the session with just under five minutes left.

The session restarted but it wasn’t long before?Sena Sakaguchi hit the barriers at the final corner, completely destroying the left-hand side of his car and ending the session for all 28 drivers.

This means Ticktum’s 2m11.004s was good enough to top the session, just 0.132s ahead of fellow Macau returnee Callum Ilott.

Newly-crowned European Formula 3 champion Mick Schumacher, who topped practice, was third fastest as he looks to become the third driver in his family to win the prestigious race.

Ilott’s GP3 team-mate and Asian F3 points leader Jake Hughes was fourth for Hitech, while Super Formula frontrunner Yuhi Sekiguchi made it five drivers from five different teams in the top five positions.

The B-Max Racing driver was just over seven tenths off pacesetter Ticktum, with Sacha Fenestraz seventh for Carlin despite a brief trip into the wall, which he was able to recover from to continue in the session.

His team-mate?Yoshiaki Katayama wasn’t so lucky when he outbraked himself into Lisboa and had to be craned off the circuit.

Joel Eriksson, who took pole for the qualifying race this time last year, could only manage seventh for Motopark, hampered by the timing of the red flags.

The second B-Max of Alex Palou was eighth ahead of Motopark’s Ferdinand Habsburg and Japanese?F3 champion Sho Tsuboi, who rounded out the top 10.

Juri Vips had to settle for 11th place ahead of Ahmed and the Prema Theodore Racing duo of Marcus Armstrong and Guan Yu Zhou. Macau debutant Sophia Florsch was 15th quickest.

The drivers will compete in one further qualifying session tomorrow, with the combined best times setting the grid for Saturday’s qualification race.

Free practice results
Pos Name Team Time
1 Dan Ticktim Motopark 2m11.004s
2 Callum Ilott Carlin +0.132s
3 Mick Schumacher Prema Theodore Racing +0.429s
4 Jake Hughes Hitech GP +0.494s
5 Yuhi Sekiguchi B-MAX Racing +0.670s
6 Sacha Fenestraz Carlin +0.703s
7 Joel Eriksson Motopark +0.728s
8 Alex Palou B-MAX Racing +0.771s
9 Ferdinand Habsburg Motopark +0.913s
10 Sho Tsuboi TOM’S +0.962s
11 Juri Vips Motopark +0.976s
12 Enaam Ahmed Hitech GP +0.994s
13 Marcus Armstrong Prema Theodore Racing +1.035s
14 ?Guan Yu Zhou Prema Theodore Racing +1.074s
15 Sophia Florsch Van Amersfoort Racing +1.513s
16 Jehan Daruvala Carlin +1.594s
17 Ritomo Miyata TOM’S +1.642s
18 Ralf Aron Prema Theodore Racing +1.700s
19 Robert Shwartzman Prema Theodore Racing +2.034s
20 Marino Sato Motopark +2.388s
21 Kevyan Andres Van Amersfoort Racing +2.550s
22 Frederik Vesti Van Amersfoort Racing +3.010s
23 Toshiki Oyu[ Toda Racing +3.063s
24 Sena Sakaguchi Toda Racing +3.664s
25 Charles Leong Hitech GP +3.966s
26 Ukyo Sasahara ThreeBond Racing +5.567s
27 Yoshiaki Katayama Carlin +8.517s
28 Ryuji ‘Dragon’ Kumita B-MAX Racing +13.131s