Macau free practice: Sato bounces back

Japan's Takuma Sato bounced back from his engine problem in qualifying to set the pace in Friday morning's free practice session for the Macau Grand Prix.

Macau free practice: Sato bounces back

The Carlin Motorsport driver fought a session-long battle with his team-mate Narain Karthikeyan for the top spot and outpaced him by just two tenths of a second after setting his best lap in the closing minutes of the session.

"The car feels good and I am very happy," said Sato. "We worked on the car overnight and I must say I was a bit nervous about this session after the problem we had in qualifying. Everything went well though and the track is getting quicker and quicker. There is no reason why I cannot fight for pole position this afternoon."

Karthikeyan was happy with his car too, despite brushing the wall at one point. "The car feels good and I am looking forward to this afternoon," he said.

Provisional pole position holder Italian Paulo Montin was third quickest but full of confidence about his chances of keeping onto the top slot in second qualifying. The Target Racing driver encountered no problems and drove within his car's limits during the session.

"The car is okay and we have a good set-up for this afternoon," he said. "I am confident that I could have done the same time as Sato, but there was no point in pushing that hard because it is only free practice. We made a few changes to the car overnight and I am happy."

Tiago Monteiro was much happier with his car after setting the fourth best time, ahead of Pierre Kaffer and Jonathan Cochet.

Local Macau hero Andre Couto was delighted with the changes made to his car overnight and was confident that he could challenge for a front row slot in qualifying. "That session didn't go too well for me because I got stuck behind traffic on my best laps," said Couto, who was seventh fastest. "The car feels much, much better and I've got no worries at all now. I can be aggressive and push a lot harder. I'm looking forward to qualifying."

The session was relatively incident free, although two drivers were forced out after brushing the wall. Austrian Robert Lechner hit the wall on the left hander after the Melco Hairpin and was unable to return to the pits, while Tomas Scheckter brushed the wall at Moorish. "It was a shame because the car felt good before that," said Scheckter. "Normally in Europe I ride the kerbs quite a bit, but here there are no kerbs - only walls."

Of the Brits, Andy Priaulx ended the session 14th fastest, while Ben Collins was 16th.

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Montin pips Karthikeyan to provisional pole
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