Williams junior driver Luke Browning won the qualifying race for the Macau Grand Prix in commanding style ahead of Alex Dunne and Gabriele Mini.
Behind them Dunne made a superb start, leaping from sixth on the grid to take third place. He was pursued by Dino Beganovic and Dennis Hauge, the latter also picking up three places at the start.
Proceedings swiftly came to a halt after a pair of crashes. Marcus Armstrong and Matias Zagazeta tangled at the tight Melco hairpin on lap one, coming to a stop at the exit of the corner. Their cars were successfully disentangled, but another incident at the start of lap two proved more disruptive.
McLaren junior driver Ugo Ugochukwu made a bold lunge down the inside of Dan Ticktum at Lisboa and the pair tangled at the apex. The two cars slid into the barrier at the outside and it swiftly became clear the Safety Car would be needed.
That eradicated the 2.2 second lead Browning had pulled out over Mini on the opening lap of the demanding Guia course. But when the restart came on lap five, Browning hit the throttle a fraction too hard as he launched his car at R Bend, and had to correct a snap of oversteer. That handed Mini his chance.
Mini tucked up into Browning’s slipstream and his rival defended again, forcing Mini to take the outside line. Behind them, Dunne had an even better run and went for the inside line, the trio hurtling into Lisboa three abreast. Browning once again proved the master of late braking, and kept his lead while Dunne edged Mini out of second place.
From there the leaders held their positions until the chequered flag dropped on the 10-lap encounter, Browning winning by two seconds over Dunne, and Mini slightly further behind him.
Beganovic will join team mate Mini on the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s main race. Hauger claimed fifth ahead of Mari Boya. Paul Aron. Josep Maria Marti, Isack Hadjar and Zane Maloney completed the top 10.
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