Lapierre gifted Macau victory

Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre won one of the most dramatic Macau Grands Prix for years on Sunday, after Japanese F3 champion James Courtney was left heartbroken when he crashed out of the lead with just four laps to go in the second heat after suffering a puncture

Lapierre gifted Macau victory

Courtney had stormed away from pole position and, after holding off intense pressure from fellow front-row starter Lapierre in the early stages, he appeared to be well on his way to a victory in the 50th running of the event. But on the 11th lap, as he held nearly a two-seconds lead, a stray piece of carbon fibre punctured one his tyres and he hit the barriers on the way out of the Melco Hairpin. The crash ripped off the right-front suspension and his race was over.

That left the way clear for Lapierre, who had originally qualified fourth for heat one, to grab a brilliant victory over his Signature Plus team-mate Fabio Carbone. Lapierre was overjoyed with the victory and said: "It was a very difficult race because James was really quick. I pushed really hard in the early stages to put some pressure on him. I didn't see what happened to James but I am just so happy."

Carbone had had a difficult afternoon after beginning the first heat from pole position. He had damaged his front-wing in the first race, after a brush with Ryan Briscoe, but still held on to finish fourth. At the second start, he stayed out of trouble in an incident-packed first lap that led to the Safety Car coming out.

Robert Kubica had crashed at San Francisco Bend and, as he bounced into the track, several cars crashed in avoidance, including American Richard Antinucci who had finished third in the first heat.

Hamilton briefly ran third behind the Safety Car, after somehow avoiding most of the carnage, but he had picked up a puncture from a collision with Antinucci and eventually dropped down the order on the restart at the beginning of lap three. That left the way clear for Carbone, who was not too disappointed at missing out on the way. He said: "I am happy for the team and my team-mate that they had great results. Pole position and second place from the Macau Grand Prix is nothing to be unhappy about."

Third place went to Japan's Katsuyuki Hiranaka, who had managed to stay out of trouble for the afternoon. "In Macau anything can happen, so I just waited to see what happens," he said.

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