Joel navigated his way through a frantic second qualifying session for the Macau Grand Prix to secure a slot on the second row of the grid for Saturday’s Qualification Race, despite getting tangled up in a crash on the final corner of what looked set to be his fastest lap.
Much like Thursday’s first qualifying encounter, the decisive Friday session proved fickle as a combination of red and yellow flag interruptions, coupled with intense traffic, made finding a clear lap highly difficult.
Once the dust had literally settled at the end of an incident-strewn 40 minutes, however, Joel had done the job needed to remain in continued contention for the 2018 FIA F3 World Cup.
Going fourth fastest, it was a good session in terms of the outright result for Joel – but he was still left frustrated by a late incident that came to stop a potential front-row attack.
Setting easily his personal best times of the session through the twisty mountain sector, Joel appeared on course for an even better result on his very last lap, but ran into serious traffic in the final sector.
He managed to clear four cars on the run from Fishermen’s to the final corner (R Bend), entering the 90-degree right hander with only Ukyo Sasahara still left in front.
Unfortunately for both parties, Sasahara lost control of his ThreeBond machine on the exit of the corner, crashing out and taking Joel – who was running immediately behind the Japanese – with him into the barriers in a heavy impact. Both drivers were stranded on the spot.
Team Motopark are currently investigating the extent of the damage to Joel’s car, which suffered a big hit around the area of the front left suspension.
Earlier on, Joel had been the first to dip below Thursday’s provisional pole time thanks to a 1m10.991s, which would remain his best lap of the session. It was eventually good enough for fourth behind Dan Ticktum, Callum Ilott and Sacha Fenestraz.
However, a look at the ideal times – bringing each driver’s best sectors together – paints a different picture, with Joel’s ideal lap a full second quicker (2m09.968s) than the one he officially recorded (2m10.991s). On the ideal times list, Joel was second fastest, just behind Ticktum – indicating there was potential for quite a bit more.
With the grid set for Saturday’s ten-lap Qualification Race, the Macau Grand Prix week now enters its next phase as we move past the qualifying stages and into race mode.
Next session: Qualification Race, 09.00 local time tomorrow (Saturday)
QUOTE – JOEL
It’s a shame what happened in the final corner, because I know that lap would have been good enough for P2 at least. I never got a proper lap in today, so there’s no doubt there was a lot more in it. Anyway, that was a difficult session and it could have had a much worse outcome, so fourth is alright. It’s actually a really good place to start from tomorrow. Let’s see what the Qualification Race brings – perhaps some rain, which would be interesting – and we’ll take it from there.”
Results – Qualifying 2