Release No: 2
Date: November 15, 2001
MACAU F3 GRAND PRIX
Thursday Free Practice 1
MONTIN LEADS THE
Italian Paolo Montin
driving for TOM'S got his Macau Grand Prix weekend off to the perfect
start on Thursday morning when he led the way during the
first free practice session for this weekend's blue-riband event.
The TOM'S driver was
among the front-runners for much of the session but
finally set his best lap of 2 minutes 14.510 seconds with just one minute
of the session remaining to outpace Prost Grand Prix test driver Jonathan
Cochet, who is returning to Formula 3 for the Macau event
"I am pretty
happy although we had some small problems with the front of
the car," said Montin. "I think it was in the front suspension
but it is
not anything we cannot solve. I am feeling pretty confident and I was
driving well within the real limit. But I am under no illusions that the
gap between the front-runners will be much closer when it comes to
Cochet, driving for Signature Competition, was generally pleased with
performance but also complained of some minor problems that the team would
try and fix before Thursday afternoon's first qualifying session.
"I had some small
problems with the brakes, but I am not sure if it was the
car or the circuit," said the Frenchman. "When I was braking
hard it felt
okay but I did not feel completely comfortable when I was using them on
other parts of the track. But this is just the start of the weekend so
happy. I am just really glad to be here in Macau after what has been a
disappointing season for me."
Pre-event favourite Takuma Sato, who has been the centre of much attention
in Macau after deciding to race in the event despite signing a Formula
1contract with Jordan, was pleased with his performance as he set the
third quickest time. "There were no problems and I am happy,"
said the Japanese.
German Pierre Kaffer, who won the qualifying heat at Macau last year,
fourth quickest after setting his quickest lap in the close stages, with
Portugal's Tiago Monteiro fifth fastest. Japan's Yuji Ide was sixth
quickest ahead of fellow countryman Toshihiro Kaneishi.
Joao Paulo de Oliveira was the fastest rookie Macau driver as he set the
8th quickest time, but Carlin Motorsport's Anthony Davidson had impressed
for much of the session as he ran comfortably in the top ten times before
dropping down the order in the closing stages. He ended the session 14th.
"That was pretty
good," said Davidson. "I followed my team-mate Sato for a
lap and felt there were places where I was quicker than him, but then
got caught in traffic in the closing stages and could not improve our
I am feeling pretty confident and know that if I learn the track a bit
I will be able to improve."
The session took place
without any incident as all the drivers successfully
brought their cars back to the pits in one piece.
Macau Media Centre,