Changing Guias: 60 Years of the Macau Grand Prix First run in November, 1954 as a club race for local motoring enthusiasts, the Macau Grand Prix has evolved into what many believe is the finest street circuit race meeting in the world. Here we look back at some of the highlights of the last 60 years.
2000’s: Bright New Future
2000 Macao was the scene of much celebration following the 47th Macau Grand Prix. Andre Couto delivered the perfect result in front of his home crowd, having fought off intense pressure from Italian Paulo Montin to claim a long-awaited victory. In leg two, Couto beat pole position man Pierre Kaffer away from the line to head the field into Lisboa. On lap five, however, Montin managed a daring manoeuvre to take second slot. Japanese driver Ryo Fukuda showed improved pace to snatch third place from Kaffer on lap eight. The Guia Race saw Dutchman Patrick Huisman win both legs, after his predicted toughest challengers failed to make the finish. The incident-filled race eventually saw Hong Kong driver Henry Lee Junior take second place, with Briton Simon Harrison in third. The Motorcycle Grand Prix saw Michael Rutter claim his second victory in three years, but not before an epic battle with fellow countryman David Jefferies. Jefferies finished second, but not before setting a new lap record, breaking that set by Rutter in 1998 by seven tenths of a second. In third was American Mark Miller.
2001 Japanese ace Takuma Sato was the talk of Macau that year. He had competed in the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix the year before, but had crashed out in the first leg. Despite having already signed a Formula 1 contract with Jordan for 2002, he was determined to first conquer the Guia Circuit. And conquer it he did in commanding fashion making the final Formula 3 race of his career one of his best. It was the first time since 1985 that a Formula 1-contracted driver had competed at Macau.
Sato's presence did not overshadow the fact that Macau saw one of the strongest fields in recent years for the F3 Grand Prix that year. The race was filled with incidents, bringing drama and excitement to the thousands of spectators. Frenchman Beniot Treluyer was second, with Bjorn Wirdheim of Sweden in third.
The Swede started his weekend by clocking the fastest ever lap on Macau's Guia Circuit. During the second qualifying session for the race, he set a lap of 2:11.983. With no significant engine improvements that year, the increase in speed was due to improved mechanical grip and track upgrading.
In the Guia Race, Duncan Huisman clinched an emotional victory after BMW team mate Tom Coronel made a mistake while leading the race, while John McGuinness won the 35th Macau Motor Cycle Grand Prix at his fourth attempt.
2002 French Formula 3 champion Tristan Gommendy left it until four laps from the chequered flag to grab the lead and take victory in the 49th Macau Grand Prix. Italian Paolo Montin, who had won leg one, was devastated when he almost stalled on the grid at the start of the second leg, and was then tipped into a spin by Japanese F3 champion Takashi Kogure. Talented young Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen was second ahead of Kogure.
The Guia Race attracted arguably its strongest entry ever, including two former Macau F3 Grand Prix winners - Andre Couto who won in 2000 and Jorg Muller, winner back in 1993. Also competing was Briton Tim Harvey, who won the Guia race in 1989. Dutchman Duncan Huisman made it two in a row when he took victory for the second successive year for BMW. He led every lap of the two 12-lap legs, crossing the line ahead of the chasing pack. In second was Italy's Nicola Larini in an Alfa Romeo, with Franz Engstler third in another BMW.
In the 36th Motor Cycle Grand Prix, which was held on the Sunday of the Grand Prix because of rain on Saturday, Michael Rutter joined an elite band of three other riders who had won the event three times. The UK-based rider beat former winner and close rival John McGuinness to the chequered flag. David Jefferies, who had won the event in 1999 was third. Jefferies was killed tragically the following year during the Isle of Man TT.
2003 The largest celebration in the city's history - the Macau Grand Prix Golden Jubilee Carnival bringing Macau alive day and night for the entire month of November. The celebrations included the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, which saw the night sky ablaze with thousands of spectacular fireworks, the Macau Food Festival, and the Macau Fringe 2003. In addition, displays of racing machinery past and present were staged all over Macau, with Grand Prix drivers making appearances and meeting the public.
In addition to the most impressive racing line up in the history of the Grand Prix, other on track events were staged including a breathtaking demonstration of the Jordan Formula 1 car by former Macau F3 winner Ralph Firman - the first time a modern-day F1 car had been seen on the Guia Circuit. Spectators also had the opportunity to win a berth as a passenger for a hair-raising lap of the circuit in the two seater Formula Renault car, and some brave competition winners got to sit behind four-time Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Michael Rutter on his race-winning superbike round the track - at times on one wheel!
The Grand Prix itself was held over two weekends and, so was the overwhelming response from competitors across the globe. Recalling the glamour of a bygone era, the first Grand Prix weekend featured the GP Anniversary Trophy and the Golden Jubilee Cup, which saw some of the finest examples of racing cars from the 1950s and ‘60s competing in two races. In the GP Anniversary Trophy, it was Frank Sytner in a Lola T70 Spyder who grabbed a last-minute victory after and enthralling duel with fellow Briton Simon Hadfield in his Lotus 30. Denis Welch grabbed the final podium position in his Lotus 23B. Simon Hadfield turned the tables in the Golden Jubilee Cup, however, taking a dominant victory despite nearly crashing twice in the opening lap. Frank Sytner once again crossed the line in second place, ahead of Denis Welch who also notched up his second podium finish of the day.
The headline event, the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix - the FIA Intercontinental Cup of Formula 3 was won by Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre after Japanese F3 Champion James Courtney was left heartbroken after crashing out of the lead with a puncture in the second heat with only four laps to go. Second was Fabio Carbone, who had been on pole position for leg one, and third place went to Japan's Katsuyuki Hiranaka.
The SJM Guia Race was filled with Dutchman Duncan Huisman taking an historic third consecutive win and helping BMW maintain its dominance of the event. However an incident in the first race caused some controversy with a last lap collision between Duncan's Carly Motorsport team mate and former Macau F3 Grand Prix winner Jorg Muller and closest challenger Simon Harrison in a Honda. Muller was later fined by the stewards, but it was a blow to Harrison who had been challenging the BMWs hard. Another BMW driver, Franz Engstler finished second, with Marc Hennerici, also in a BMW, third.
In the 37th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, Michael Rutter rode to a commanding victory, bringing his Macau tally to a record-breaking four wins in six years. Michael led the 15-lap race from start to finish on his Renegade Racing Ducati, beating his closest rival John McGuinness, winner of the 2001 event, by more than five and a half seconds and breaking the lap record by almost a full second in the process. Third home was veteran Scotsman Brian Morrison on a Suzuki. Australian Cameron Donald won the Supersport 600 class from New Zealand newcomer Bruce Anstey.
2004 The enormous momentum created by the 50th Macau Grand Prix celebrations gathered pace into 2004 and, some months before the 51st running of the event got underway, it was announced that the prestigious event was to play host to a second FIA race. In 2005, Macau is to host the final round of the newly-created FIA World Touring Car Championship, which, added to the FIA Intercontinental Cup of Formula 3, will mean the very best “tin top” specialists in the world will go head-to-head on the same race programme as the future stars of Formula 1 in season-closing grand finales – all in Macau.
The 51st running of the event saw some major changes to the programme as part of the organisers’ pledge to continually upgrade this unique racing weekend. For the first time, a Qualification Race for the Formula 3 Grand Prix was held on the Saturday afternoon to set the grid for Sunday’s 15-lap main race. In previous years, the Grand Prix had been held over two legs on Sunday and the overall winner must have completed all laps of both legs to be eligible for victory. This meant that, potentially, the driver taking the chequered flag in leg two was not necessarily the overall winner. However, the improved new format meant that any drivers failing to finish the Qualification Race were still eligible to take an outright win in the race itself. As predicted, this made for one of the most eventful Grands Prix in Macau’s history!
The second change was to the Guia Race which, in preparation for the adoption of FIA WTCC rules the following year, was run in two legs of 8 laps each and for the first time adopted Super 2000 regulations for international entries.
Another improvement to the race programme was the move of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, which features the world’s leading road racing specialists, to a Saturday afternoon slot from its previous early morning fixture.
Such was the success of the Macau Grand Prix Golden Jubilee Carnival in 2003, that organisers once again took the opportunity to showcase the vibrant city of Macau to the countless visitors which flock to the Grand Prix and staged the Motorsport Festival – Grand Prix Carnival, with a host of exciting cultural, sporting, culinary and entertainment events.
The field for the headline event, the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix – FIA Intercontinental Cup of Formula 3, the “world cup” of the category which is now recognised in international motorsport circles as the stepping stone to Formula 1, was hailed by many as the most competitive in Macau’s history. Not only did it feature the champions of new fewer than four national F3 series, but among the hugely talented group of youngsters were three sons of former Formula 1 World Champions – Christian Jones, Nelson Piquet Junior and Nico Rosberg.
In Saturday’s Qualification Race, Lewis Hamilton stamped his authority on the Macau Grand Prix field after grabbing the lead on the opening lap and remaining unchallenged throughout the 10-lap encounter. The Briton eventually finished 2.2 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg, with Alexandre Premat third.
For Sunday’s Grand Prix, it was Alexandre Premat who triumphed over the intensely competitive field after an incident-filled race, with two Safety Car periods and a red flag bringing an early end to the event. The Frenchman withheld intense pressure to head home Poland’s Robert Kubica and Brazilian Lucas di Grassi.
German Jorg Muller made history in the SJM Guia Race when his victory helped him become the first man to win both the touring car and Formula 3 Grand Prix on the famous circuit. He edged out BMW Team Germany team-mate Andy Priaulx by just two tenths of a second with SEAT’s Rickard Rydell third.
The two-wheel action was no less gripping when Michael Rutter, on board the Honda CBR 1000, made it three wins in a row when he won the 38th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix-Hotel Fortuna.
The 31-year-old racer from Kirkby Mallory Leicestershire had to work hard for his win, the fifth of his career in this Far East Classic, after rival John McGuinness (999 Monstermob Ducati), who had been fastest in practice, took the lead at the start of the 15-lap race.
Rutter admitted that he thought his rival had pulled too far away to be caught on the opening lap when the gap was almost one and a half seconds, but decided to ride as hard as he could and hope that McGuinness would make a mistake.
Rutter’s chance to take the lead came on lap eight when McGuinness, the 32-year-old from Morcambe Lancashire, was slower than normal on the fast straight to Lisboa Bend and Rutter was able to pull out of the slipstream and go past him on the brakes. McGuinness refused to give in though, and was only half a second down on Rutter at the chequered flag.
It was a good day for the Cumbrian-based Paul Bird-owned Monstermob Ducati team with 21-year-old Scot Stuart Easton finishing third.
In addition to the three headline events, the race programme was as usual full to the brim with exciting support races for local, regional and international single seater, touring, saloon and sports cars.
Fok Man Ip took victory in the Hotel Fortuna Trophy for Macau racers, followed by Ho Kai Chung and Wong Kiang Kuan.
Kenny Chung Chik Wai won the 10-lap Macau 4th East Asian Games Cup, open to Hong Kong drivers, followed across the line by Chan Wing Shiu and Leung Wing Keung.
In the CTM Cup showdown, for Group A saloon cars and open to international drivers, it was Thailand’s Grant Supaphongs who emerged as winner, followed by Chung Wai Hang and Man Kam Fung of Hong Kong.
The 2nd Macau Grand Prix Committee Scooter Cup, for Macau residents, was won by Lio Kin Chong, followed by Lai Kit Man and Ao Sek Kai.
Cheong Lou Meng of Macau took victory in the GT Tires Asian Formula Renault Challenge, the second single seater race on the programme, and designed to nurture young racing talent. Behind Cheong was Bruno Senna, nephew of the late, great Ayrton Senna who won the inaugural Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix back in 1983. Bruno is just embarking on his motorsport career, and it was an emotional experience for him to compete at Macau, making his podium finish all the sweeter. Third was American Scott Speed.
In the final round of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia, Crest Jaseri Racing’s Rizal Ramli successfully converted his pole position into a thrilling win on Macau’s Guia street circuit. The 28-year-old Malaysian, racing at Macau for the first time in his career, did not put a wheel wrong on the notoriously demanding circuit to take a well-deserved victory.
A-Ha Racing’s Matthew Marsh crossed the line in second place after a 10-lap race that was high on drama, clinching the championship title after a phenomenal season. Third was Hong Kong hero and Team Infineon-Novellus driver Charles Kwan in the last sprint race of his career. Despite missing out on a swansong victory, Kwan, one of Southeast Asia’s most respected drivers and winner of the Guia race in 1993, made his mark on the race by setting the fastest lap - an incredible 2:31.956.
The 51st Macau Grand Prix was hailed by all as an unqualified success, but organisers are well aware that 2005 will represent a milestone in the history of the Grand Prix with the most prestigious programme in the event’s entire 52-year history. The world will be watching, but Macau will be ready.
2005 The 52nd Macau Grand Prix was a milestone in the history of the event as it included the final and deciding round of the FIA’s newest World Championship – the FIA World Touring Car Championship. The addition of the prestigious new fixture to the already-impressive race programme resulted in arguably the best weekend of top-notch international motorsport Macau has ever hosted.
The event was hailed by media, spectators, sponsors and competitors alike as a tremendous success and it marked the beginning of a new era for Asia ’s most famous motor race.
In front of record numbers of media, it was Brazilian Lucas di Grassi who clinched the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix win and the FIA Intercontinental Cup of Formula 3, after a thrilling race on the Sunday. The 21-year-old Formula 3 Euroseries star had finished the Qualification Race in third behind Frenchman Loic Duval and Poland ’s Robert Kubica, and dramatically snatched the lead in the Grand Prix from rival Kubica with just two laps to go.
The battle for victory was blown wide open at the start when pole position man Duval, was adjudged to have jumped the start. Duval had managed to keep the lead at the start and opened up an impressive 2.2 second lead over the first lap. However, the Race Stewards decided to hand him a drive-through penalty following which he dropped well down the order and eventually finished sixth.
The penalty meant that the fight for the lead was left between di Grassi and Kubica and the pair were locked in a thrilling battle for the entire race. Kubica seemed set for victory at the end of lap 10 when the Safety Car was called out following an incident involving three cars. When it pulled in at the start of lap 14, di Grassi seized the opportunity to slice past Kubica and stayed ahead to take the chequered flag.
German Sebastian Vettel took third, ahead of TOM’s duo Joao Paolo de Oliveira and Kazuki Nakajima.
As the world’s greatest touring car drivers descended on Macau for their end-of-season title decider, three drivers – Dirk Müller, Andy Priaulx and Fabrizio Giovanardi were each in with a chance of claiming the inaugural FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Both races in the FIA WTCC LG-Guia Race of Macau – Presented by Sociedade de Jogos de Macau , S.A. more than lived up to expectations, and the crowds were on their feet throughout.
Alfa Romeo’s Augusto Farfus Jr. won the first round which had to be restarted after a major pile-up at Lisboa. Macau hero Andre Couto crashed out of the lead on the opening lap of the restarted race.
Farfus took the lead on lap five and then proceeded to drive a defensive race under pressure from early leader Priaulx. Although the Brazilian slowed the pace at the front of the field in a bid to help team-mate Giovanardi to climb the order, it all went wrong for the Italian on the penultimate lap when he crashed out of sixth place.
With BMW’s Priaulx taking second place, Giovanardi’s title hopes were dashed even before the start of the second race. Meanwhile, Priaulx’s own hopes of winning the title received a massive boost on the final lap when a drive shaft collapsed on the car of remaining rival Dirk Müller. That dropped the German from fourth to 10th, leaving him seven points adrift of Priaulx in the title chase.
Rickard Rydell finished third, and the reverse grid for the second race meant Priaulx would start from seventh with SEAT’s Peter Terting on pole.
Dutchman Duncan Huisman broke his own Macau record by winning the final race of the 2005 FIA WTCC bringing his Guia Circuit tally of victories to four. However, all attention was on second-placed BMW team mate Priaulx who captured the title.
The Briton was assured the crown early in the race when his only remaining title rival, Dirk Müller crashed out on lap three.
Huisman got past pole man Terting at the start, and Priaulx was just one second behind him when the Safety Car was called out on lap six following a four-car collision at Reservoir Bend.
At the re-start on lap 10, Priaulx had a quick look down the inside of Huisman but could not find a way past and, after setting himself up perfectly on the final lap, had to remain in formation under yellow flags.
Alain Menu took third on the road for Chevrolet but was later excluded on technical grounds. That left Augusto Farfus Jr. in the Alfa Romeo third overall ahead of Alex Zanardi in the BMW.
Much anticipation surrounded the 39th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix-Hotel Fortuna as Briton Michael Rutter embarked upon his quest to equal two-wheel legend “Rocket” Ron Haslam’s record of six Macau victories.
Rutter’s campaign got off to a good start when he took pole position for the start of the 15-lap race. The 32-year-old, aboard the 1000cc Red Bull Honda, then led from start to finish and set a pace quicker than any of his rivals, taking the chequered flag in style and booking his place in the Macau Grand Prix history books.
By the end of the race, Rutter had pulled out a gap of 16.6 seconds over second-placed man, fellow Briton John McGuinness, also on a Honda. Scotsman Les Shand charged through from fifth place on the opening lap to pass Welshman Ian Lougher on lap nine to take the final podium spot.
Another Scotsman, Steve Allan won the 600cc Supersport Class after setting a new class record of 2:31.625 seconds. Callum Ramsay threw away second in the class when he crashed on the final lap, allowing Ian Hutchinson, making his debut at Macau , to take second in the class just three hundredths of a second in front of Australian Cameron Donald.
The support races on the 52nd Macau Grand Prix programme also produced a feast of thrills, spills and fierce competition.
In the Macau , 2007 2nd Asian Indoor Games Cup it was Wong Kwai-wah who took the lead on the first lap and never looked back, claming a convincing win in the competition for Hong Kong drivers. Billy Lo Kai-fung came in second ahead of Wong Ka-hong.
The Hotel Fortuna Trophy, for Macau drivers, was won by Daniel Amante Gomes. Leong Hen-u, who started from eighth on the grid, was second while Ho Wai-kun was third.
Kenneth Look appeared to have the CTM Cup/Asian Touring Car title sown up, but with three laps remaining he sensationally crashed leaving fellow Hong Kong driver Yau Wing-choi to inherit the lead and take the win. Fung Man-wai was second, while Cheong Chi-loi finished third.
The third running of the Macau Grand Prix Committee Scooters Cup for Macau residents was once again a tremendous success. Lai Kin-fei won the race having built up an extraordinary lead of 38.5 seconds by the chequered flag. Second was Tou Mou-heng, followed by Chan Kin-fai in third.
The HONGHE Asian Formula Renault Challenge once again provided race-goers with some frantic on-track excitement as the region’s leading junior single seater racers vied for victory in front of the international motorsport community.
It was a successful race for the Japanese drivers with five in the top six spots, including Hyroyuki Matsumura in first, followed by countrymen Kazuya Oshima and Koudai Tsukakoshi.
Henry Lee Junior was the top non-Japanese finisher in fifth, while Italian Luca Persiani finished seventh in front of Australian Aaron Caratti.
In the final round of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia it was Hong Kong ’s Darryl O’Young who took victory for Team Jebsen. The 25-year-old had started from pole and only lost the lead briefly to Briton Nigel Albon, who crashed while leading, to take a well-earned victory. Second was Thailand ’s C. Nattavude, while reigning champion Matthew Marsh was third.
Hong Kong ’s Marchy Lee, racing as a Porsche Asia Pacific VIP driver, crossed the line in fourth, ahead of 19-year-old series-registered driver Jonathan Cocker who at the same time clinched the 2005 championship title.
2006 As the Macau Grand Prix continued to grow in the calibre of the on-track action, the facilities, the number of visitors flocking to the city, and the level of sponsorship support, the 53rd running of the event was arguably the best yet.
In the Polytec Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, the FIA F3 Intercontinental Cup, it was British Formula 3 Champion Mike Conway who proved to be the best-of-the-best in 2006 while, in what was a superb weekend for British racers, Andy Priaulx successfully defended his FIA World Touring Car Championship crown, clinching his second title in as many years in an almost unbearably tense championship-decider.
In the Formula 3 race, Conway took the lead at Lisboa corner on the first lap after the three leading cars all slid down the escape road. After staying clear of trouble, he set about opening up an early one-second lead over Japan ’s Kohei Hirate, but the Safety Car was called out on lap two after Euroseries Champion Paul di Resta and Macau driver Rodolfo Avila crashed at Fishermen’s Bend .
The race restarted on lap five and Conway once again pushed hard to open up an early advantage, although he nearly came to grief after brushing the wall near Maternity Bend on lap six – leaving marks of yellow paint on his right front wheel.
From there Conway was able to keep his advantage, while the cars behind him were locked in a fantastic battle for position. Hirate eventually lost second position to a hard-charging Richard Antinucci and then dropped to fourth behind Adrian Sutil before crashing out on the penultimate lap.
Antinucci finished the race 1.4 seconds behind Conway , with All Japan Formula 3 Champion Adrian Sutil taking third.
In Saturday’s Qualification Race, Japan ’s Kamui Kobayashi converted his pole position into a dominant victory finishing 3.3 seconds ahead of Estonian Marko Asmer.
The final two races to decide the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Champion had been billed as the most open world final ever, with no fewer than nine drivers capable of taking the crown. However, reigning Champion Andy Priaulx got his title defence off to a good start when he converted his pole position into a dominant victory in the first race to seize the lead of the title chase.
The BMW driver made a good start from pole position and, despite attempts by Dirk Muller and Duncan Huisman to wrest the lead on the run down to Lisboa, the Briton was comfortably ahead by the braking zone.
He then set about pulling away and, despite a worrying moment on lap two when he was forced to reduce his speed to a crawl at the Melco Hairpin after coming up behind a very slow Stefano D’Aste, he comfortably edged out a lead to finish 1.020 seconds ahead of Huisman.
The result provided a major boost for Priaulx’s championship ambitions, especially with many of his title rivals hitting trouble. Yvan Muller’s third place was not enough to keep him in the fight, while Dirk Muller’s hopes were wrecked when he was spun around by Fabrizio Giovanardi at Lisboa on lap one.
The only other men still able to win the championship after the race were Augusto Farfus. Jr, who finished fifth behind Giovanardi, and Jorg Muller who took sixth.
Jorg Muller dominated the second Macau race, and final of the season, but it was not enough to prevent BMW team mate Priaulx from taking his second successive world crown.
Muller moved to the front of the field at the start after making a brilliant getaway, but he was immediately put under pressure from title rival Farfus Jr. who was tucked right in his slipstream. Farfus got sideways going through Mandarin Bend, though, and swiped the barriers – damaging his car and putting himself out of the race.
That left the way open for Muller to charge clear at the front, but the Safety Car was brought out following a collision between Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff that partially blocked the track.
At the restart, Muller was gifted a massive lead after second placed Peter Terting slowed with a misfire and the pursuing cars all had to back off until the SEAT driver pulled over. By the time that happened, Muller was more than five seconds clear and he maintained that advantage to the flag.
Second place eventually went to Yvan Muller, who fought off race-long pressure from the pursuing Tom Coronel until the chequered flag.
Behind him, Priaulx took fifth place, which was enough for him to take the WTCC title by one point from Muller. After fighting off a tough challenge from eventual sixth placed finisher Fabrizio Giovanardi, Priaulx claimed it was the ‘hardest and best’ race of his career.
For the 40th running of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, a host of former winners returned to the city to join in the celebrations. Despite having retired from competition some years ago, and with the last of his six Macau victories coming in 1987, the legendary “Rocket” Ron Haslam was not looking forward to seeing his record number of wins broken by Michael Rutter.
Rutter was hot favourite to take a seventh win in 2006, one more than Haslam (although as Haslam pointed out, Rutter can never equal his perfect record of six wins from six attempts), however it was not to be.
Briton Steve Plater, on board the AIM Racing Yamaha 1000 emerged triumphant from a record-breaking Rio Hotel Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix – 40th Edition to take victory. Plater passed Rutter early on in the race and, despite a furious battle which saw the pair break Rutter’s long-standing lap record no fewer than four times, stayed ahead of his rival until the chequered flag.
Rutter, on the Stobart Motorsport Honda 1000, was badly baulked by a slower rider two laps from home but continued to chase the race leader and was just under a second behind him at the chequered flag.
A third British racer and Rutter’s team mate, Ian Hutchinson, looked as though he would challenge for victory in the early stages, but after losing second spot to Plater he began to drop back and finally finished third, twenty seven seconds down on the race winner.
Steve Allan beat fellow Scot Callum Ramsay, both on MSS Discovery Racing Kawasakis, in the Supersport 600 Class. It was the second year in succession that Allan had taken victory in the race, but he announced afterwards that he was now looking for a Superbike ride for next year’s event. Hong Kong racer Cheung Wai On on his privately-owned Yamaha was third in the smaller bike class, 20 seconds behind Ramsay.
Other Macau winners of the past joining Haslam for the anniversary were former World Champion and Macau winner in 1988 Kevin Schwantz, TT hero Mick Grant who took two Macau victories in the 1970’s and 80’s, and Macau champion in 1991, Didier de Radigues.
Adding to the nostalgia of the celebrations, sixty vintage motorcycles were brought to Macau, 40 of which, ridden by the former winners along with multiple Macau runner-up Peter Rubatto and current heroes Michael Rutter and John McGuinness, took part in parades on Saturday and Sunday.
Back in the fast lane, and the weekend once again included a full quota of exciting support races.
In what has become known as a showdown between the region’s best touring car drivers, the CTM Silver Jubilee Cup was won by Hong Kong’s Paul Poon in a Honda Civic EP3. Fellow countryman Kenneth Look was second, followed by Eurico De Jesus, both in Honda Integra DC5s.
In the Hotel Fortuna Trophy for Macau drivers, Chan Man Fong took the win ahead of Chong Kin Wa and Helder de Assuncao, while Chan Wing Shiu won the Macao 2007 – 2nd Asian Indoor Games Cup race for Hong Kong drivers from Ko Tim Tak and Wong Ka Hong.
The final round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2006 season was dominated by Gates GR Asia’s Danny Watts who took victory in the 10-lap race with a massive margin of more than eight seconds.
Second was Cref Motorsports’ Keita Sawa, earning an impressive podium finish in his Macau debut. Tomo Racing’s Shinichi Yamaji held on to third from a determined Darryl O’Young, the newly-crowned champion.
In the 4th Macau Grand Prix Committee Scooters Cup, for Macau residents, Lai Kit Chau won the 70cc class on a Yamaha machine, followed home by Ip Weng Keong riding a Piaggio and Lio Kin Chong aboard a Yamaha. Ip Lou Va won the 125cc class on a Yamaha, while Lao Ka Hou clinched the honours in the 50cc category, also riding a Yamaha.
Having crowned the world’s best Formula 3 and touring car drivers, and prolonged the suspense of the Haslam/Rutter record attempt for another year, Macau now turns its attention to creating a memorable celebration to mark the next chapter in its rich heritage - the Silver Jubilee of the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix!
2007 The 54th Macau Grand Prix marked the 25th running of its Blue Riband Formula 3 Grand Prix – the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup and the proven testing ground for future F1 stars.
The entry for the race was arguably the strongest in its history, with the world’s best young racers in the category joined by Bruno Senna, nephew of the late motorsport legend Ayrton. Bruno returned to Macau for a third time, despite having graduated to GP2, looking to repeat his uncle’s dominant victory which had seen him beat drivers such as Gerhard Berger, Roberto Guerrero and Martin Brundle to take the first ever Macau Formula 3 win 25 years earlier.
Although it was not to be after the 24-year-old Brazilian injured his hand during an incident in Saturday’s Qualification Race, it was nonetheless a thrilling event.
It was Briton Oliver Jarvis, 3rd in the All-Japan Formula 3 Series that season and winner of the Qualification Race, who dominated the Polytec Macau Formula Three Grand Prix in 2007, leading every lap and keeping his cool during a safety car period to take victory in the Silver Jubilee event.
Jarvis made a perfect getaway from pole position to lead into Lisboa Bend and, despite nearly hitting the wall at the first corner, he instantly opened up an advantage to control things from the front.
Fellow front row starter and British Formula 3 Champion Marko Asmer had managed to draw alongside Jarvis’s TOM’S car away from the line, but he lost ground on the straight and dropped behind Kazuya Oshima and then also Sam Bird on the run down to the first turn.
Asmer managed to recover third position at the start of lap two when he slipstreamed Bird down the main straight and moved ahead under braking for Lisboa.He then started closing in on second placed Oshima, before a safety car was called out on lap seven when Frenchman Frank Mailleux crashed heavily at Moorish Hill.
Jarvis timed the restart on lap 11 perfectly, opening up a one-second lead over Oshima, while behind him Asmer lost third place to Kodai Tsukakoshi on the run down to Mandarin Bend.
Tsukakoshi got another position on the run to Lisboa on lap 13 when he went around the outside of Oshima – but he did not have enough speed to do anything about Jarvis.
Oshima finished third, with Asmer taking fourth place. Brazilian Roberto Streit was fifth, with Sam Bird sixth, James Jakes seventh and Romain Grosjean recovering from his dramas in the Qualification Race to claim eighth at the flag.
The FIA World Touring Car Championship title was decided for the third time on Macau’s Guia Circuit, and Andy Priaulx clinched his third consecutive victory in great style with a win in the second race at Macau on Sunday.
Six of the biggest names in touring car racing arrived in Macau to fight it out for the prestigious championship after a dramatic penultimate round of the championship at Monza. The title fight could not have been any closer, with BMW's Priaulx and SEAT's Yvan Muller tied on points at the head of the standings and Augusto Farfus, James Thompson, Jörg Müller and Nicola Larini all in contention for the crown.
Alain Menu took victory in a spectacular first race, but all eyes were on Priaulx, who took a crucial eighth place as his main title rivals hit trouble.
Yvan Muller led away at the start, moving ahead of pole position man Alain Menu straight away at the rolling start. From there he was able to edge away slightly, but Menu kept with him and refused to give up completely on the lead. Behind them, BMW’s Augusto Farfus in third place faced a stiff challenge from SEAT’s Gabriele Tarquini – and even received some contact from behind on the run from Lisboa into San Francisco on lap two.
Farfus lost time with that contact but as Muller and Menu lapped at the front of the field, Farfus steadily reeled them in – before getting right behind them in the final laps of the race.
But then drama unfolded as first stewards informed that they were investigating Muller’s car – potentially for having been ahead of Menu at the start. Then on lap eight, Muller stopped with a suspected mechanical problem – handing Menu the lead but also delaying Farfus enough to allow Tarquini to close in once again.
Tarquini made a bid to take the second spot and under braking for Lisboa, the Italian tried to get around the outside of Farfus but could not find a way through. Tarquini tried to cut inside for the next corner, but as Farfus defended once again the pair collided. Farfus spun into the barriers on the right hand side and was out on the spot, ending his dreams of the FIA WTCC title. Tarquini kept going to finish second, ahead of Chevrolet’s Rob Huff.
The incidents helped Priaulx take the eighth place he needed for a single point but more crucially pole position for race two.
Priaulx got away well from pole position in the second and final race of the season, but it was title rival James Thompson who made the best start from third as he stormed his way past Nicola Larini and moved up to second.
Thompson showed he meant business as he pushed Priaulx hard in the early stages, even nudging into the back of the lead BMW at the Melco hairpin on the first lap.
But Priaulx was steadily able to extend his advantage and he went on to take an unchallenged victory – having seen his title chances boosted by the race one retirement of closest title rival Yvan Muller.
Behind Priaulx, Thompson found himself as the man under pressure. On lap five, Larini had a look at Lisboa and the pair appeared to make light contact on the exit of the corner. Their battling allowed the SEAT of Tiago Monteiro to close in and the three were soon fighting it out bumper-to-bumper for position.
Larini made his decisive move to second at the start of lap seven when he got a good slipstream down the main straight and dived inside Thompson at Lisboa – before immediately pulling clear. He eventually finished 0.842 seconds behind Priaulx.
Thompson then faced intense pressure from Monteiro, but was able to hold onto the third place despite a big attempt by his Portuguese rival around the outside at Lisboa on lap eight.
In the 41st running of the Macau Motor Cycle Grand Prix, Steve Plater claimed his second victory in succession.
But the 34-year-old British racer had a massive stroke of luck on the 15th and final lap of the event when he and rival John McGuinness, on the Stobart Vent Axia Honda encountered two lapped riders at the Melco Hairpin.
McGuinness, winner of the race in 2001, had the consolation of setting a new lap record for the event at 2:26.096 seconds (150.80kph).
Plater was able to pass them and pull away to win by over four seconds on the AIM Racing Yamaha 1000, while McGuinness who was baulked by the two riders having their own private battle could only watch as Plater pulled away.
Michael Rutter (AVIVA Kawasaki 1000), looking for a record-breaking seventh win in the race, did not even have the consolation of a podium finish. He was forced to take to the slip road at the 90 degree Lisboa corner three laps from the end when Austrian rival Thomas Hinterreiter (Austria Racing Team Yamaha 1000) rode side-by-side with him towards the turn.
American Jeremy Toye (Lee’s Cycles Racing Suzuki 1000) had his best ever finish in Macau by taking fourth place but well over 30 seconds behind the top three. Manxman Conor Cummins, the youngest rider in the race at 21 years-of-age, was fifth home.
Steve Allan, the 33-year-old from Perth, Scotland, was winner of the 600 Class for the third year in a row, on the AIM Racing Yamaha 600. He beat German Rico Penzkofer (Austria Racing Team Yamaha 600) by over 12 seconds. Another Scottish racer Callum Ramsay (Solent Scientific Honda 600) was third.
As the opening race of the weekend the Bel-Lago Cup saw Law Wai Lung take victory ahead of Ko Tim Tak with Wong Ka Hong crossing the line in third.
The Hotel Fortuna Trophy was won by local campaigner Chou Keng Kuan, however two incidents at the same time on different parts of the circuit, meant that four laps of the race were run under the Safety Car. Leong Ian Veng of the Leng Hong Racing Team came second in the 10-lap race. Leong, while in third place was Wong Wan Long of the TIR Speed Club team.
It went right down to the wire for Hong Kong driver Paul Poon driving a Honda Civic EP3 in the CTM Cup. With the Safety Car coming onto the track halfway through the race and bunching up the field, Poon also had to fend off an 11th-hour threat by Japanese driver Masaki Kano in the lone BMW 320i, to successfully defend his CTM Cup title. In third place was the ecstatic Macanese driver Daniel Amante Gomes, in another Honda Civic EP3.
Lio Kin Chong, riding a Piaggio ZIP 50 SP 2T battled hard to win the 5th MGPC Scooters Cup ahead of second-placed rider Ip Weng Keong. Third overall was Lai Kit Chau in his Yamaha CV 50 ZR, while veteran racer and last year’s 125cc class winner Ip Lou Va came first again in his class on a SYM Fighter 125. In second was Ieong Weng Hong in a Yamaha Motociclo and third Kouk Peng Kang, also in an SYM Fighter 125. In the 50cc class, Ng Tek Lon was first with a time of 16:15.050 in a Yamaha YG 50 Z with Sio Ken Seng in second and Lei Kam Fat in third.
In the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the final and deciding round of which was part of the Macau Grand Prix weekend, GruppeM Racing’s Tim Sugden clinched the 2007 championship title after title rival Christian Jones of SCC Racing China dramatically crashed in to the barrier at the notorious Lisboa Bend on the penultimate lap of the final race of the season. Up to that point, the Australian had had the title in the bag, running in 4th while Sugden languished in 7th. The pair were separated by just two points going into the final round, and Jones’ retirement meant Japan’s Keita Sawa finished his second Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season second overall.
The race was won by Hong Kong’s Darryl O’Young, taking his second victory on the streets of Macau. The Team Jebsen ace put in a faultless performance and, although he was overtaken by GR Asia’s Danny Watts on the penultimate lap, race Stewards decided the Briton had made his move under a yellow flag and handed him a 30 second penalty. That demoted him to 5th. Sawa crossed the line 3rd, taking his second successive Macau podium, but was promoted to 2nd following the Stewards’ decision.
Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee was third in the final standings, ahead of Team Vertu’s Nigel Albon.
The Macau Grand Prix continues to grow each year and this time, as well as a race programme which was nothing short of spectacular, the event celebrated two “firsts”. An A1GP car took to the Guia Circuit for the first time, with Team China’s 23-year-old Cheng Cong Fu at the wheel, and fans were treated to a glimpse of what could well be the future of motor racing - the Toyota Supra HV-R hybrid race car. Toyota had made history the previous summer when the car became the first ever hybrid to win a racing competition when it took victory in Japan’s Tokachi 24-Hour Race. At Macau, it was the winner of the 2000 Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, local racer Andre Couto, who gave racing fans a glimpse of what could well be the beginning of a new era in motorsport competition.
However, even before the on-track excitement had begun, the city was already celebrating its high-octane week of motorsport and a “warm up” event was held at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf on the Wednesday before the Grand Prix. To get the drivers and riders from the three headline events into the competitive spirit, three teams took part in a fun pedicab race which proved a major success with the racers, the international and local media, and of course the fans.
The winning touring car team was made up of three-time Champion Andy Priaulx, Gabriele Tarquini, Alain Menu, Augusto Farfus, Macau veteran Tom Coronel and Nicola Larini. From the Formula 3 entries came Bruno Senna, Marko Asmer, Kazuya Oshima, Rodolfo Avila of Macau, Brendon Hartley and Nicolas Hulkenberg. Rounding out the event entry was six-time Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Michael Rutter, with fellow riders Les Shand, 2003 winner John McGuinness, Conor Cummins, Joao Fernandes and Supersport class racer Cameron Donald.
The Windsor Arch 55th Macau Grand Prix was an event to remember, with some of the most spectacular racing the Guia Circuit has seen, and a perfect weekend all round – even down to the blue skies and dazzling sunshine. Another name was cemented in the history books and this time, it was a surprise win by Japan’s Keisuke Kunimoto, who became the second-youngest winner of the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup.
Kunimoto’s TOM’S team took their second consecutive win in the blue riband event and the 19-year old, in his first appearance in Macau, became one of just a handful of select drivers who were able to conquer the Guia circuit at their first attempt. Prior to Kunimoto’s victory, the Macau Grand Prix saw SEAT driver Yvan Muller take his first FIA World Touring Car Championship title in the first race of the FIA WTCC Canon - Guia Race of Macau – Presented by Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A. Though Chevrolet’s Alain Menu was the Race 1 winner, Muller’s third-place finish secured him the championship title. Race 2 was won by Menu’s teammate Robert Huff.
The 42nd Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix saw 25-year old Stuart Easton claim his maiden Macau victory, and in the process deny Michael Rutter a seventh and record-breaking win.
In the Windsor Arch Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, Kunimoto was joined on the podium by pole-sitter Edoardo Mortara and Brendon Hartley.
Mortara earned pole position for the race by taking a convincing win in Saturday’s Qualification Race. Having started third on the grid, he managed to move into second, right behind leader Kunimoto, by the time the field streamed into Lisboa Bend for the first time. At the start of lap 7, Mortara saw his chance and got a slipstream on the run down to Lisboa, allowing him to pull alongside Kunimoto and grab the lead under braking.
From there, Mortara built a gap of more than two seconds before easing off to take the chequered flag. Kunimoto finished second, just ahead of Roberto Streit, Oliver Turvey and Sam Bird. It was a disappointing Qualification Race for pole-sitter Carlo van Dam, who retired on the first lap of the after he brushed the wall going through Mandarin and suffered a puncture. A collision at San Francisco bend with fellow Dutchman Renger van der Zande put him out for good.
With the starting positions set for Sunday’s Grand Prix, it was Kunimoto, second on the grid, who got away better than pole-sitter Mortara and managed to fight off his rival all the way down to Lisboa Bend. Chaos erupted behind the front pairing, with Streit colliding with Bird and the Safety Car being called out to retrieve the two cars. When racing resumed on lap three, Kunimoto maintained his advantage, aided by Mortara who briefly hit trouble on lap four when the Italian locked up under braking for Lisboa. Daniel Campos-Hull and Jaime Alguersuari got past him, but Mortara recovered third place on lap six. He then moved into second, where he would stay for the remainder of the race, after Alguersuari was handed a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.
The Safety Car was brought out again on lap eight, after Roberto Merhi crashed at R Bend. At the restart on lap 10, Kunimoto came away clear, with Mortara hitting the wall on the hill section and slightly damaging his car. Though he attempted to close the gap, Mortara finished 1.7 seconds behind Kunimoto. Brendon Hartley finished third, having started 20th, but benefited from a number of incidents in the race that moved him up the field.
For the fourth consecutive year, the FIA World Touring Car Championship was decided at Macau, but for the first time it was not BMW who took the title, but SEAT. Muller headed into the race with a 14-point lead over teammate Gabriele Tarquini, and though he did not need a win to secure the championship, Muller sealed his title in convincing style, finishing third behind Menu and BMW’s Andy Priaulx.
Menu led away cleanly at the start and opened up a gap between him and Priaulx before the reigning Champion was able to close the gap down and finish just 0.523 seconds behind. In the early stages of the race, Muller had run fifth, but moved up to fourth on lap two and then up to third spot, when SEAT teammate Rickard Rydell slowed with a suspected engine failure on lap four.
Muller then faced pressure from behind, first from Huff and then from Augusto Farfus who had moved up to fourth on the penultimate lap. Muller was able to hold on, however, and clinch his first FIA WTCC crown – with Tarquini finishing seventh.
With the championship decided, race two proved to be an action-packed affair with Huff delivering Chevrolet a second victory in Macau after seeing three leaders crash out in the race’s final two laps.
N. Technology’s James Thompson looked to be on course to grab victory in the race, having led cleanly away from pole position and holding off intense pressure from the following Farfus.
But on lap eight, Thompson swiped the wall at the Solitude Esses, forcing him into retirement and clearing the way for Farfus to take victory. He, too, however crashed and as Tarquini tried to squeeze through the incident to take the lead, the Italian swiped the wall and damaged his car.
Those incidents allowed Huff, who had been running a lonely fourth for much of the race, to secure the win and the result awarded him third place in the drivers’ championship. Newly crowned FIA WTCC champion Muller came through the chaos to finish second, ahead of outgoing champion Andy Priaulx.
In the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, Scottish racer Stuart Easton took his first-ever victory, with six-time winner Rutter finishing second and John McGuinness rounding out the podium.
Rutter’s victory looked to be his for the taking when two of the frontrunners were forced out with mechanical problems. Though he dramatically took the lead from Rutter on the opening lap, Cameron Donald was forced to stop on lap five with a mechanical problem. That left Easton in the lead with a margin of almost three seconds from Rutter and pulling away.
On lap eight, pole-sitter Conor Cummins suffered a mechanical breakdown, just as he looked as if he might pose a threat to Rutter and Easton ahead of him. With Cummins out, Rutter realized he was closing in the 25-year old Scot and was determined to catch him in the hopes of forcing him to make a mistake. The gap closed to within a fifth of a second, but a determined Easton would not give away his debut victory and charged on to take the chequered flag by a 2.7 second margin. McGuinness was nearly 30 seconds behind Rutter and finished third.
In the Supersport 600cc category, another Scottish racer, Keith Amor, emerged as the winner, two overall places ahead of Frenchman Gerald Muteau. Joao Fernandes became the first local rider to take a podium finish in the event with third in the 600cc class.
As part of the Macau Grand Prix programme, the spectacular sport of drifting was put on display. Four drifting experts were tasked with the challenge of impressing the spectators as they demonstrated this popular and growing sport. Much to the audience’s delight, on both Saturday and Sunday the four drivers highlighted some of drifting’s most popular aspects.
A newly improved support race programme saw four races make their Macau debut. In the Hotel Fortuna MAC/HKG Interport Race, Macau’s Chou Keng Kuan capitalized on a flawless start from pole to win the inaugural race, which pitted drivers from Macau and Hong Kong against each other. Chou, who led from start to finish, was joined on the podium by veteran racer Filipe de Souza, while fellow Macanese race Cielo Alves Diaz came third, completing a perfect Macau podium for the race.
The Windsor Arch Macau Road Sport Challenge was another new event, with Sun Tit Fan taking honours in Class A, Lei Chong Seng in Class B and Lam Kam San winning the Class C trophy. Once again, it was an all-Macau podium, demonstrating the strength and competitiveness of the local racing talent.
The annual CTM Macau Touring Car Race was won by a patient Chan Man Fong of Macau, who waited for the perfect overtaking opportunity on the sixth lap to get into the lead. Finishing second was Macanese driver Mak Ka Lok, who successfully fended off challenges from Hong Kong’s Lo Hung Pui on the last lap, who was awarded third place. Though Eurico De Jesus was the second car to cross the finish line, a stewards’ decision later disqualified him, paving the way for Mak and Lo to move up a spot each.
The Windsor Arch GT Cup, an exciting new addition to the support race programme, was dominated by Team Jebsen driver Darryl O’Young, taking his third victory on the Guia Circuit. The Hong Kong racer had a perfect race and finished well ahead of second place finisher Danny Watts of Great Britain and Japanese driver Keita Sawa.
The fourth and final new support race was the junior racing series, Formula BMW Pacific, who held its season finale in Macau. Twenty young prospects, some as young as 15, experienced the ultimate learning curve with a race on the demanding Guia Circuit. Romanian Mihai Marinescu became the first Formula BMW winner at Macau, finishing ahead of teammate Michael Christensen of Denmark. Japanese racing driver Kimiya Sato finished third in the race. In what would later prove to be a very celebratory day for the Kunimoto family, Yuji Kunimoto, the younger brother of Formula 3 winner Keisuke, finished fifth in the Formula BMW Pacific race.
In 2009, Macau celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Special Administrative Region of China, and the Grand Prix played its part in the city-wide celebrations with its signature brand of high-octane excitement.
With title sponsor Windsor Arch on board for the second consecutive year, the 56th running of the Macau Grand Prix will be remembered as one of the most exciting ever, with new lap records set in Formula 3, motorcycles and touring cars, and the FIA World Touring Car Championship decided in the SAR for the fifth time.
Guest at the event was 1989 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix winner David Brabham who, 20 years after his victory on the Guia Circuit, won both the famous Le Mans 24 Hours and the American Le Mans Series in 2009.
To describe the three headline races as dramatic would be an understatement. In the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix – the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup – Italian Edoardo Mortara finally took the victory he so coveted after a race-long battle with Signature team mate, Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay, and becoming the first driver since Michael Schumacher in 1990 to win the event in a Volkswagen-powered car.
In the FIA World Touring Car Championship-Marriott-Guia Race of Macau-Presented by Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A., Chevrolet’s Robert Huff and BMW’s Augusto Farfus took a win apiece, but it was SEAT’s Gabriele Tarquini of Italy who took the 2009 championship crown on the streets of Macau.
In the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, 2008 winner Stuart Easton clinched his second victory, but not before a nail-biting battle with Conor Cummins in what was one of the most thrilling final laps in memory.
Following Japanese Formula 3 team TOM’s two previous wins, in 2008 with Keisuke Kunimoto and Briton Oliver Jarvis’ 2007 victory, reigning Japanese F3 Champion Marcus Ericsson of Sweden was a hot prospect to make it three in a row. Ericsson qualified on pole for Saturday’s Qualification Race, with Vernay starting alongside him on the front row of the grid.
Off the start however, Vernay made a better getaway than Ericsson, but he only held the lead on the run into Lisboa as the TOM’s driver slipstreamed past him before the corner.
Following a brief safety car period, caused when Jake Rosenzweig crashed heavily at Mandarin Bend on the first lap, Vernay moved back to the front when he dived past Ericsson into Lisboa at the restart on lap four.
The Frenchman then pulled clear to open up a lead over Ericsson, with his victory assured in the ten-lap race when there was a late race safety car period to allow marshals to retrieve Wayne Boyd’s Hitech Racing machine after he had a spectacular crash at Mandarin Bend.
Behind Vernay, Ericsson had a tough time holding off Edoardo Mortara – who had come through a scrape with Jules Bianchi just before San Francisco bend on the opening lap.
On lap eight, Mortara appeared to have done enough to take the place off Ericsson when he swooped past his TOM’S rival on the run down to Lisboa – but the manoeuvre was done under yellow flags and he had to hand the position back later that lap.
His hopes of making another attempt to get the position were dashed almost immediately when the second safety car meant he had no further opportunity to get past. Vallteri Bottas finished fourth, with Belgian Laurens Vanthoor fifth.
Race day dawned, and the field lined up for the start of the 27th running of the famous Grand Prix, and the 15-laps which decide the best Formula 3 driver in the world.
The excitement began immediately. A superb start by Mortara allowed him to move past front-row starter Ericsson and pole position man Vernay on the run down to Lisboa.
The race was stopped a few moments later, however, when the track was blocked following a multiple-car collision caused when Australian Daniel Ricciardo crashed into the wall at the Solitude Esses and was clipped by a number of other cars.
At the restart, Mortara got away cleanly but his advantage was not enough to prevent Vernay getting into his slipstream and overtaking him into Lisboa.
From there, the Signature pair were locked in an intense battle for the lead – although it seemed Vernay had done enough as Mortara could not get close enough in the final corners of the lap to get a slipstream down the main straight.
However, coming out of the Melco Hairpin on lap 11, Vernay made a mistake which allowed Mortara to close up on him and swoop past into the lead going into Lisboa on lap 12.
From there, Mortara, 2008 runner-up, was able to pull away and take victory on his third visit to Macau, setting a new lap record of 2:10.732 in the process.
Briton Sam Bird finished third, having moved up the field from seventh on the grid. He was fifth in the early stages of the race, but took fourth from Ericsson on lap 12. He then moved up another place on the final lap when third place runner Valtteri Bottas slowed with a wheel problem. Ericsson finished fourth, with Bottas fifth.
As the FIA World Touring Car Championship arrived in Macau for the final rounds of the 2009 season, three drivers remained in contention for the title: SEAT’s Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller, and BMW’s Augusto Farfus.
However, it was Chevrolet’s Rob Huff who came through an action-packed qualifying session to take pole position on an afternoon when the title hopes of Tarquini and Yvan Muller were hit after they were involved in an incident.
The pair both comfortably made it through to the final shoot-out session, but they failed to set a lap time after they got caught up in a crash early on.
Muller appeared to lose control of his SEAT on cement dust that had been laid down at Faraway following an earlier crash between James Thompson and Stefano D’Aste. Moments later, Tarquini went into him – before the pair were then hit again by Alain Menu.
With the SEAT duo out of action, the way was left open for the other title contender Augusto Farfus to take pole position – but he could not quite manage it.
Although moving to the top of the timesheets with one minute of qualifying remaining, Huff went even quicker on his final lap to secure pole position, shortly before Andy Priaulx secured the second spot.
Successfully capitalising on his pole position, Chevrolet’s Rob Huff dominated the first of the two races, as runner-up finisher Gabriele Tarquini moved a step closer to capturing the drivers’ title.
Huff led away cleanly at the start as fellow front-row starter Andy Priaulx hit trouble – falling back into the pack and then clouting the wall at the exit of Turn One as he tried to fight off his rivals.
Priaulx’s problems allowed Tiago Monteiro to move up to second spot early on, with Gabriele Tarquini charging through the order to be up to third by the time the cars braked into Lisboa Bend.
From there, Huff managed to open up a cushion over Monteiro until on lap eight the Portuguese SEAT driver slowed down – handing second place to Tarquini.
The top two finishers eventually crossed the line 7.9 seconds apart – with the result giving Tarquini a six point lead in the points table over Yvan Muller going in to the final race of the season.
Jordi Gene eventually finished third after a dramatic closing lap to the race, with BMW’s Augusto Farfus dropping down the order on the final lap to secure himself the eighth place finish that gave him pole position on the reverse grid for the second race.
Farfus’ tactics meant Alain Menu moved up to fourth on the final lap, ahead of Yvan Muller, who was the only man capable of stopping Tarquini capturing the championship title.
Pole-sitter Augusto Farfus took victory for BMW in the final round of the 2009 FIA WTCC season, as SEAT’s Gabriele Tarquini clinched the drivers’ crown.
Farfus led away cleanly off the start, and held an advantage throughout the early stages of the race from BMW team-mate Jorg Muller, who himself was fighting off the close attention of SEAT duo Yvan Muller and Tiago Monteiro.
Their battle was interrupted by a safety car on lap three, when Tom Boardman crashed in the Solitude Esses, and then the race was red flagged at the end of lap eight when there was a spectacular incident at the R Bend final corner.
Felix Porteiro had run wide and hit the barriers, before his car was swiped by Franz Engstler’s BMW. With debris on the track there was no option but to halt the race, and it was decided that the event would not be restarted.
It meant that Tarquini’s fifth placed finish was enough for him to take the 2009 FIA WTCC crown, with his SEAT team doing enough to take the manufacturers’ title. Tarquini had also set a new FIA WTCC Guia Circuit lap record of 2:32.517.
In the 43rd running of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, Stuart Easton, the 26-year-old Scottish racer, took pole position after qualifying fastest in the two timed sessions after none of his rivals were able to get near his best lap.
Easton finished over four fifths of a second faster than Conor Cummins (PBM Kawasaki WSBK Team), the 23-year-old racer from the Isle of Man.
Michael Rutter, the 36-year-old Leicestershire rider who was looking for his record-breaking seventh win in Macau, was third fastest on the Team of Paris-AXA Racing Kawasaki 1000, but his machine finally broke down on his final lap of qualifying after suffering a misfire for most of the session.
Another British rider, Ian Hutchinson (PBM Kawasaki WSBK Team), the 30-year-old Yorkshireman, was fourth fastest to complete the front row of the grid for the 15-lap race.
It was very close in the Supersport 600 Class with the fastest three riders all covered by less than a quarter of a second. Frenchman Amaury Baratin (Team of Paris-AXA Racing Triumph 675) was fastest but only by four hundredths of a second from Joao Fernandes (Yamaha) of Macau. Cheung Wai On, the 28-year-old racer from Hong Kong, was third fastest on his new Kawasaki just a fifth of a second slower.
After a thrilling race on Saturday, it was pole-sitter Easton who won the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix for the second year in a row, breaking the lap record in the process. However, his victory was in doubt until the final few yards after rear tyre problems struck.
Easton led the pack away from the start and had built up a lead of over six seconds before his rear tyre began to show signs of excessive wear on lap six. His main rival, Conor Cummins, then started to catch him rapidly. On the penultimate lap of the 15-lap race, Cummins took the lead, but Easton was not giving up without a fight.
At Lisboa Bend Easton regained the lead and then made use of the back markers to stretch an advantage over Cummins, crossing the line almost two fifths of a second in front of his rival.
Easton set a new motorcycle lap record for the Guia Circuit at 2:25.170.
Ian Hutchinson came home in third place, his best ever finish in the event, after catching and re-passing Gary Johnson, the 29-year-old from Lincolnshire, in the closing stages to cross the line over five seconds ahead.
German Rico Penzkofer (BMW Macau Racing Team) was fifth home, nine seconds behind Johnson, with six-times winner of the race Michael Rutter a disappointing sixth.
Frenchman Amaury Baratin won the Supersport 600 Class, beating Cheung Wai On by just over three seconds, while third was local rider Joao Fernandes.
The support race programme for the Windsor Arch 56th Macau Grand Prix was no less thrilling, with five races ensuring the action just kept on coming.
At his fourth attempt, Japan’s Keita Sawa finally claimed victory on the Guia Circuit, winning the second running of the Macau GT Cup in his LKM-backed Lamborghini Gallardo GT3.
Sawa grabbed the lead from pole-sitter Darryl O’Young in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S at the rolling start and never looked back, although his Hong Kong rival fought hard to the end. The intense battle saw the LKM-Team Jebsen driver cross the line just 0.285 seconds behind Sawa at the end of the 10-lap race.
Third was Briton Danny Watts in a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, 23.077 seconds behind the leader, while Malaysia’s Tunku Hammam Sulong was fourth in a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S.
Sawa’s powered past O’Young off the start to grab the lead, but the Safety Car was called out after Michael Lee’s Chevrolet Corvette Z06 became the first car to go out.
When the Safety Car pulled off, racing resumed and two laps later, Watts managed to get by Sri Lankan Dilantha Malagamuwa to go third.
In the Hotel Fortuna Macau/Hong Kong Interport Race, it was Leong Ian Veng who took victory as the Macau SAR swept the podium for the second straight year in a shortened race. Second across the line was his Son Veng Racing Team teammate Wong Hou Man, while Sergio de Lacerda finished third.
The second running of the Macau Road Sport Challenge saw Sun Tit Fat take his second consecutive victory, the Macau racer at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. IX, edging out Tatsuya Tanigawa of Japan driving a Mazda RX 8. Taking the final podium spot was Macau’s Lei Chong Seng in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VIII.
Tanigawa also took the top Class B honours, while Chou Keng Kuan of Macau driving a Honda CRX emerged victorious in Class C.
Hong Kong’s Lo Ka Fai won the CTM Macau Touring Car Race ahead of fellow countryman Kenneth Look, and Ferdinand S. Pastor of the Philippines.
In the Formula BMW Pacific race, the final round of the series’ 2009 season, it was Briton Will Buller, 17, of the Eurointernational team who clinched victory.
The dramatic eight-lap race saw Buller finish ahead of teammate Jim Pla of France, 17, and the newly crowned Formula BMW Pacific winner Rio Haryanto of Indonesia.
Just eight out of the record 23-strong field finished the race, after an incident at Mandarin Bend on Lap 1 forced numerous cars out of the race. Buller’s win gave his team Eurointernational their 25th Formula BMW victory of the season in 35 races.
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