Joel went seventh quickest in a heavily disrupted first qualifying session for the Macau Grand Prix, but indicated the pace was there for more after posting the fastest time on used tyres.
Joel enjoyed a strong start to the session, sitting on top of the timesheets at the 15-minute mark when local Macanese racer Hon Chio Leong crashed his Hitech GP machine at Police corner and triggered the first of three red-flag stoppages.
At the restart, the majority of the field opted to dig into their allocation of new tyres, causing times to tumble.
However, the session was compromised throughout by a further two stoppages and several yellow flags, with Joel one of those most heavily affected; repeatedly having to back off on fast laps, he would not improve on his initial, used-tyre time which remained the best of the day in those conditions.
Topping the times was Motopark team-mate Dan Ticktum, who thus claimed provisional pole for Saturday’s qualification race ahead of fellow Brit Callum Ilott – who survived a scare early on when he clattered the wall exiting Dona Maria.
However, the final grid will not be set until tomorrow, when all drivers could improve on their times and positions in the second and final qualifying session.
Next session: Free Practice 2, 11.30 local time tomorrow (Friday)
QUOTE – JOEL
That was one of those typical Macau sessions – you have them every once in a while around here. It was basically bad timing in between red flags, yellow flags and traffic on the new tyres, and that’s why I couldn’t improve. I’m confident we have the pace; it was looking very good early on when everyone was on the same tyres, so I’m not too worried. The only slight issue is it might rain tomorrow – that’s why we put on new tyres today at all – but we’ll see. Seventh is a decent place to start from anyway. We’ll make some small tweaks to the car overnight and try to improve on this position tomorrow if it stays dry.”
Results – Qualifying 1