Browning wins Macau Grand Prix qualifying race
Saturday 18th November, 2023 - 8:18pm
Lukę Browning converted pole to a well-crafted victory in the qualifying race for the Macau Grand Prix ahead of Hitech teammate Alex Dunne.
The pole starter was forced to fend off an aggressive Gabriele Mini at the start, the pair running side-by-side as they funnelled into Lisboa.
The Williams junior held his nerve, though, leading Mini as the field snaked up the mountain section for the first time.
FIA F3 first-timer Dunne, meanwhile, made a blinder of a start from sixth on the grid, tucking in behind Browning and Mini in third place.
The race was then neutralised on the second lap when Dan Ticktum was hit by Ugo Ugochuckwu at Lisboa, sending both cars into the wall and out of the race and prompting a safety car.
Browning came under pressure again on the Lap 5 restart, this time from both Mini and Dunne as the trio went three-wide into the braking zone for Lisboa.
But again Browning didn’t blink, retaining the lead while Dunne snuck past Mini to take second place.
From there Browning was unstoppable, charging to a 1.7 second victory over his teammate and Mini.
“To be fair, that was pretty sketchy,” said Browning. “It really wasn’t easy to stay focused and all of the walls are coming at you so quickly.
“That three-wide moment into Turn 3 was eye-opening, to say the least. I broke as late as I could, I put it all on the line and it was as much as I was willing to risk, and it was just enough.”
Dunne, meanwhile, was delighted to end up second in what was his first race in an FIA F3 car and followed just a single test.
“Finishing on the podium in my first F3 race is something pretty special,” he said.
“Obviously the car has been great all weekend from FP1 to now, Hitech has done a super job.
“But yeah, two weeks ago I didn’t even know if I was doing the the race, and now to be in may first F3 race and finish on the podium is a special feeling.”
Dino Beganovic finished fourth ahead of Dennis Hager, Mari Boya and Paul Aron.
The top 10 was completed by Josep Marti, Isaac Hadjar and Zane Maloney.
Christian Mansell was best of the Aussies in 20th ahead of Tommy Smith in 23rd.
Kiwi Marcus Armstrong looked to pick up damage on the first lap and had to stop, before recovering to 22nd.
In the FIA GT World Cup qualifying race, Rafaelle Marciello led a Mercedes one-two ahead of Maro Engel.
The Swiss driver was untroubled from pole, although did have to survive two safety car restarts in a race that featured a lengthy red flag.
That was to complete repairs on the barriers at Mandarin after Adderly Fong destroyed his Hello Kitty-backed Audi in a monster crash.
Engel ended up in second courtesy of an impressive move around the outside of Edoardo Mortara at Mandarin on the opening lap, but while he could shadow Marciello across the race he never made a serious play to get through.
Mortara had to settle for third, albeit right behind the two leading Mercs.
In the TCR World Tour race, Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz put one hand on the title with a flawless lights-to-flag win ahead of Honda’s Nestor Girolami.
Rob Huff fought hard to stay ahead of Mikel Azcona in a heated battle for third, his margin to Michelisz now 18 points, with 25 on offer tomorrow.
Ben Bargwanna finished 12th in his Peugeot as he looks to book a spot at the World Final early next year.