Courtney sets practice pace

Japanese F3 champion James Courtney dominated the first practice session for this weekend's 50th Macau Grand Prix to confirm his status as one of the main favourites for victory

Courtney sets practice pace

The TOM'S driver, who was eliminated in an opening lap accident in last year's first heat, was right on the pace from the beginning of the 30 minute session and ended it 0.744 seconds clear of closest challenger Pierre Kaffer.

Courtney said: "That was nice. Everything went well although there are a few things I would like to change for qualifying. The only drama was a bit of a communication problem with my team on the pitwall, so I didn't know what position I was in. I wasn't pushing too hard as I didn't want to crash, so I am pretty happy."

Kaffer put in his best time on the final lap of the session to finish ahead of American Richard Antinucci and Japan's Tatsuya Kataoka.

Narain Karthikeyan, who is making his fifth attempt at winning the Macau Grand Prix, was happy with his car after positing the fifth quickest time. He said: "I was just getting up to pace and getting myself comfortable with the car and track. There were no problems and, in fact, the track is less bumpy this year because of the resurfacing work that has taken place."

British Formula Renault champion Lewis Hamilton's Macau Grand Prix got off to the worst start possible when he badly damaged his car after a collision with Kataoka.

Hamilton had paced himself well through the session but collided with Kataoka at Fisherman's Bend, spinning heavily into the wall. Kataoka claimed he was the innocent party. He said: "Lewis braked early and I went inside him to overtake. But then he closed the door and we both crashed."

There were no other major incidents during the session. Marco Bonanomi hit the wall at Dona Maria Bend and Fairuz Fauzy tapped the barriers at Lisboa after braking too late.

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