Misfortune strikes Lee at the Macau Grand Prix
Chinese race ace Marchy LEE Yin-Kin (HKG - Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus) suffered several spates of misfortune during the two days of qualifying for the 51st Macau Grand Prix F3 race. The morning practice sessions were productive on the Thursday and Friday, with good improvements and a balanced setup. The afternoon qualifying sessions were less rosy, as Lee only managed to complete 5 laps in Thursday's session and 8 in Friday's, after a couple of on-track incidents.
On the Thursday Lee rounded a typical blind corner at the perilous Macau street circuit, only to find two cars entangled ahead of him. Even with lightening reflexes Lee was unable to avoid a crash which damaged the nose and both front corners of his Dallara F3 car.
"There was nothing I could do," said Lee after the incident. "I didn't see any yellow flags, so I took the corner at my usual speed, but there were 2 cars blocking the road."
Hopes were high for the second qualifying session on Friday afternoon, as track conditions seemed quicker than on Thursday, with the quickest time out of the two sessions deciding the grid for Saturday's qualifying race. Lee missed the first 9 minutes of the 45 minute session when his seatbelt buckle failed while his engineer strapped him in, which required the removal of his fitted seat to replace the faulty buckle.
Once he was on track Lee was unable to get into his rhythm as the session saw 3 separate red flags stopping the action. With 15 minutes to go, Lee returned to the track and improved his Thursday's time, but soon after out-braked himself, sending his car into the tire barrier and ending his session.
"I was pushing quite hard because time was running out. I was just a fraction too late on the brakes, and couldn't make it round the corner," said a disheartened Lee. He will start from 25th in Saturday's qualifying race, the result of which determines the start order for the main race on Sunday, so Lee still has a chance to improve.
"Anything can happen in Macau, and so far I've been a bit unlucky. I hope that I can stay out of trouble in the qualifying race tomorrow and improve my position for Sunday's race," said Lee.
There were a few former Meritus drivers in action in Macau too, with Jamie Green (Meritus 2002 Macau Formula Renault winner) qualifying 6th, and Tung Ho-Pin (Meritus 2003 Formula BMW Asia champion) qualifying 27th in his first ever visit to Macau. Robert Kubica (POL) eventually qualified on pole with a time of 2mins 12.155secs, followed by young Briton Lewis Hamilton and American Richard Antinucci.