Former Formula Three Grand Prix winner Ralph Firman made a successful return to Macau today [Friday], when he smashed the street circuit's lap record at the wheel of his regular Jordan-Ford EJ13.

Firman, who won the prestigious international F3 race in the former Portuguese colony in 1996, piloted the car as part of the event's 50th anniversary celebrations - the first time that a contemporary F1 machine had been seen in action around the tight and tricky Guia circuit. Fresh from his first season in the top flight, the British driver clocked an impressive 1min 59.4secs lap - some 13secs quicker than F3 poleman Fabio Carbone managed on the same day.

"Driving an F1 car around here lives up to expectations," Firman admitted after climbing from behind the wheel of the unfamiliar blue-and-silver Sobranie-liveried car, "I decided not to hold back, and it was rewarding to break the lap record over the few laps that I had.

"The extra downforce and grip produced by the Jordan makes it a good challenge and it was entertaining to drive. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend and it's great to be back behind the wheel for the first time since Suzuka."

The trip was also a memorable landmark for team boss Eddie Jordan, who was Ayrton Senna's employer when the legendary Brazilian won the 1983 F3 event at the wheel of Teddy Yip's Theodore entry. The 50th anniversary celebrations have been dedicated to Yip following his passing in July of this year.

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