Week 47 – Little Story About Macau (11/12)
THE HISTORY OF MACAU GRAND PRIX
The Macau Grand Prix was originally conceived in 1954 as a treasure hunt around the streets of the city, but shortly after it was suggested that the hunt’s track could host a professional racing event for local motor enthusiasts. The race continued as an amateur race until 1966, when Belgian driver Mauro Bianchi entered the race in an Alpine A220 (chassis #1722). Alpine Renault had also sent engineer, Jean-Paul Castilleux, to assist Bianchi with technical aspect of the car. Bianchi’s victory and exposure led to more professional racing teams entering the Grand Prix in the following years.
The motorcycle race was introduced in 1967, and in that year the first fatal tragedy struck the race: double champion Dodjie Laurel was killed when he lost control of his car and crashed. This raised the alarm for more safety improvements for the race.
The first Guia race for touring cars was held in 1972. Macau’s Guia Race for touring cars is a particular race for this category, as very few races with these cars are held on street circuits. Since 2005 the race has officially become the final two rounds of FIA World Touring Car Championship.
In 1983, it was decided by the organisers that since Formula Pacific was becoming obsolete, the race would be held as a Formula Three event. Initially, they wanted to run a F2 race, but as they were unwilling to make any large circuit modifications, which included cutting down trees, the organisers settled for F3. This turned out to be a right decision, given the fact that since then it has raised the reputation of the event in the motorsport world by attracting the best young drivers from Europe and Japan to compete in the event. The first F3 race was won by a young Ayrton Senna. The race in 1990 was a memorable one, as Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen were involved in an incident when they were in positions 1 and 2 going into the final lap. At the main straight just after the Mandarin Oriental Bend, Häkkinen hit the back of Schumacher’s car and crashed out when he attempted to overtake him. Schumacher’s car was able to continue with its rear wing damaged and eventually won the race with the best aggregate time. Other notable winners include Formula One drivers David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and Takuma Sato. Since the introduction of F3 races, the Macau GP has gradually become a stepping stone for many F3 drivers to higher class motor-racing competitions such as the GP2 series and Formula One.
Macau is a special event for motorcycle riders too. The Motorcycle Grand Prix has featured many famous riders such as Kevin Schwantz, Carl Fogarty, Ron Haslam and Michael Rutter.
Teddy Yip was one of the main forces behind the Macau Grand Prix back in ’70s and 80s, leading the Grand Prix to be one of the world’s most famous motor racing events. The Macau Grand Prix parties he hosted for many years at his home also became a central part of the social aspect of the Grand Prix.
Reference: Macau Grand Prix Tourism Board