Jarvis keeps head amid mayhem to snatch top slot

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am

Oliver Jarvis, the rookie of the year in the British Formula Three Championship last year, stormed to provisional pole position in the dying seconds of an incident-filled qualifying session in the Polytec Formula Three Macau Grand Prix yesterday.

Jarvis, 23, drives for Team Reckless Tom's, but he stayed cool even at the end of a stop-start qualifying session which was red-flagged three times due to crashes. He refused to be flustered and steered his way through traffic to clinch pole position for today's 10-lap qualification race with a time of two minutes, 11.696 seconds.

'I was concerned that there were so many red flags. Not only was that frustrating, but the traffic was also heavy and it was difficult to find gaps. Fortunately, I timed my last lap right and it paid off,' he said.

In second place on the grid will be reigning British Formula Three champion and Hitech Racing's Marko Asmer, of Estonia, who is strongly tipped to win the race. Japan's Kodai Tsukakoshi, driving for Manor Motorsport, grabbed third spot while Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi will start in fourth place.

To make the event more interesting, organisers changed the format of the showpiece race a couple of years ago. In previous years they had two separate 15-lap races with the aggregate time deciding the winner, now there is a qualification race today - which will decide the grid for tomorrow's 15-lap finale.

'The most important thing is to finish the qualification race tomorrow,' said Buemi. 'If you don't finish it, there is absolutely no chance at all of winning on Sunday. You will have to compromise between pushing hard and finishing the race.'

Buemi can afford to say that - after all he is up there in the front. But for the rest of the 30-strong field they will have no option but to push, especially someone under as much pressure as Bruno Senna. The nephew of legendary three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna is lying in 18th place. His hopes of following his uncle, who won the inaugural F3 race here back in 1983, and recording an emotional victory look slim at the moment. Senna could only manage a lap time of 2:13.856.

At least his car survived the unforgiving walls of the 6.2km Guia circuit. This was not the case with much-touted New Zealander Brendon Hartley, who hit the barriers just past Lisboa bend yesterday and lost a wheel. Hartley starts in 21st place.

Both Senna and Hartley will have no option but to push. They can only wish they were in the position of second-placed Asmer. Long-time Macau experts say lying second is the best position on the grid - so as to be in the slipstream of the pole driver in the long stretch after the start, allowing for easier overtaking before the first Lisboa bend.

'Yes, it is not a bad position to be in,' said Asmer, who will be hoping to continue his fantastic 2007 season by icing it with a win tomorrow.