Couto in top practice form

Andre Couto used his valuable knowledge of Macau's challenging street circuit to set the fastest time in first practice for this weekend's SJM Guia touring car race

Couto in top practice form

The Alfa Romeo driver, who is hoping to become the first driver in recent times to win the Formula 3 Grand Prix and the Guia event, was 1.901 seconds ahead of BMW rivals Jorg Muller and Andy Priaulx but was not expecting things to be so easy in qualifying.

He said: "That was okay. I love this track and it is always very nice to be back in Macau - I have great enthusiasm for this circuit. Although I am ahead of BMW now, I think they are deliberately going slow and will be much faster in qualifying this afternoon."

Briton Andy Priaulx was pleased with his third fastest time as he got to grips with his BMW car and re-adjusted to the Guia track after his recent Formula 3 experience. Priaulx said: "I'm happy. It is the first time I have driven the car and the circuit certainly feels a lot narrower than it did when I was in F3. But if you can drive an F3 car competitively around here then you can drive anything."

German Franz Engstler in the BMW was fourth quickest, ahead of Peter Scharmach, also in a BMW, and James Kaye in his Honda Civic.

Briton Simon Harrison set the seventh fastest time despite losing a lot of track time after his throttle cable broke at Moorish Hill. He said: "I was so proud with myself because I managed to fix the problem but, by the time I got back to the pits, the session had nearly finished."

Dutchman Duncan Huisman, who is hoping to win a third consecutive Guia race this weekend, only completed five laps after suffering a gearbox problem early in the session. He said: "I was just building up my speed when I tried to get fifth gear and it didn't go in. There was lots of noise from the gearbox and I had to stop. It's a shame."

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