Briton Darren Manning lived up to pre-event expectations when he led the way during opening practice for this weekend's Macau Grand Prix. The Japanese Formula Three Champion, who drives for last year's Macau winners TOM'S, set his best time with just five minutes of the session remaining. He outpaced Italian Paolo Montin and Indian Narain Karthikeyan by six tenths of a second during a relatively incident-free session

"I had no problems with the car at all," said Manning. "There was quite a bit of traffic out there and I clipped an apex when the track was slippery early on, but everything feels good. The circuit has been resurfaced since last year and there are a lot less bumps. Now we will just have to do some fine-tuning for qualifying."

Japanese driver Daisuke Ito, driving for Skill Speed, was fourth fastest and reported no problems with his car. Local driver Andre Couto made some changes to his car during the session but was happy with his fifth fastest time.

Dutchman Christijan Albers, the German Formula Three Champion, set the pace early on in the session but only managed to complete nine laps before his second gear broke. "It is a bit disappointing," he said after ending the session 13th. "I never really got any clear laps in. Twice I had to stop at the hairpin because other cars had crashed."

British Formula Three Champion Marc Hynes could not hide his amazement at the Macau circuit on his first visit. The Manor Motorsport driver ended the session 24th fastest overall. "That was fun," he said. "I have not been round the circuit before and I am still learning where the track goes. I am pretty sure I will be much better prepared by this afternoon."

Malaysian Alex Yoong was only able to complete two laps after stalling at the chicane. He had been forced to stop because another car had hit the barrier....Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais spun backwards into the barriers at the top of the hill, but his car was only slightly damaged.