Courtney wins first leg

James Courtney secured victory in an exciting first leg of the 50th Macau Grand Prix as many of his main rivals fell foul of incidents and accidents. Despite not starting from pole position, the TOM'S driver kept his head to grab the lead from eventual second placed finisher Nicolas Lapierre on lap six to secure pole position for the second heat

Courtney wins first leg

Front row man Ryan Briscoe made the best start and, after banging wheels, edged inside pole position man Fabio Carbone into the first corner. Despite taking the lead, he carried too much speed into Lisboa and ran wide, dropping to third. This let Carbone, with a broken front wing, through again to take the lead, with Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre in second place.

But the Safety Car was soon called out. German Pierre Kaffer had hit the wall at San Francisco Bend after diving inside Paolo Montin and, as he bounced back into the track, several drivers collided. Nico Rosberg rolled and Alvaro Parente also crashed. Danny Watts was also involved in the collision.

The Safety Car came in at the beginning of the third lap and as Carbone's broken front wing flew off into the air almost immediately after the restart he was outdragged by both Lapierre and James Courtney into Lisboa. The leading duo then steadily pulled clear of the field before Courtney dived past around the outside at Lisboa in a thrilling move on the sixth lap.

From there Courtney did not put a foot wrong, despite his car jumping into neutral on one lap and costing him time. He eventually came home 4.6 seconds ahead of Lapierre. A delighted Courtney said: "I really wanted to be pole for the second race."

But while the fight at the front was relatively straightforward there was a thrilling contest behind. Carbone was struggling for pace, thanks to the missing right front wing element, and Briscoe was eager to get past. But as they battled for third place, the pair collided at Lisboa on lap seven. Although Carbone was able to continue, albeit losing a place to eventual third placed finisher Richard Antinucci, Briscoe spun and dropped down the order to eventually finish 15th. He said: "Fabio braked 30 metres earlier than normal and I had nowhere to go."

Carbone bravely held on to fourth place, with the drive of the race coming from Briton Lewis Hamilton who had started 17th on the grid. He avoided the carnage at San Francisco Bend to be ninth at the end of the first lap. He then took Robert Kubika on lap six and Robert Doornbos on lap nine. And despite losing fifth place to Doornbos on the final lap, he regained the position when the Dutchman was slowed with a broken driveshaft to limp home 14th.

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