As the countdown to the Grand Prix begins, keep track of the drivers and riders who could be Macau-bound this November!
Newcomers to the British Formula 3 Championship drivers were given their first taste of a street circuit in June at Pau in France. Looking ahead to November, and no doubt hoping to earn a coveted invitation to the Blue Riband Macau event, Carlin star Oliver Jarvis said: "It's nice to experience a street circuit and should help us for Macau."
Räikkönen Robertson Racing's Mike Conway won both races in the Championship Class, while Rodolfo Gonzalez and Juho Annala took a win apiece in the National Class. However, it was Macau's very own Rodolfo Avila who was runner up in the second race in the National Class, the 19-year-old scoring his first podium finish in European motorsport: "As I'm from Macau, I've grown up watching street circuit racing, and it gives me great pleasure to be on the podium at a street circuit. My first podium is dedicated to all my sponsors, to Macau and to every Macanese," he said.
Only the brightest stars in the world of Formula 3 earn a seat in the Macau Grand Prix, the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup, and, while it is still early days and all the drivers have several more opportunities to shine.
Conway's experience of the Macau's Guia Circuit last year may well have helped him dominate the streets of Pau, and he now tops the championship leaderboard ahead of Bruno Senna, nephew of the late racing legend Ayrton. Senna has competed in Macau twice, finishing second in the 2004 Formula Renault race there, and making his Macau Formula 3 debut last year.
The Macau Grand Prix is the recognised testing ground for future stars, and this year 18 of the 22 drivers competing in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship have raced in Macau.
In other news Macau regular, Carlin Motorsports, notched up the team's 100th race win in April. Since the UK-based teams' first win in 1999, it has recorded an impressive tally of 71 British F3 wins, 11 International F3 wins, 8 Nissan/Renault World Series wins, 9 Formula BMW wins and a single win in the Porsche Super Cup.
FIA World Touring Car Championship
After ten rounds of the 20-round 2006 season, BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx, who clinched the inaugural Championship title last year in Macau, tops the leaderboard ahead of James Thompson of SEAT Sport UK. SEAT currently leads the Manufacturer standings, just a single point ahead of BMW. Another Macau Grand Prix regular, Tom Coronel tops the Independents table for GR Asia.
With another season of close racing, predications are that the 2006 title chase will, once again, go right down to the wire at Macau.
Meanwhile, FIA WTCC race winner and four-time Macau victor Duncan Huisman has replaced Marcel Costa in the BMW Team Italy-Spain line-up for the rest of the season, meaning the popular Dutchman is on track to make a welcome return to Macau in November.
Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix regular and 2001 winner John McGuinness shone at the Isle of Man TT in June, giving Honda it's first "big bike" TT win since 2000 in the IOM Superbike TT on June 3. The street circuit ace scorched to a record-breaking victory on an HM Honda Fireblade 1000, coming home some 39 seconds ahead of another Macau regular Ian Lougher after the six-lap race, and setting the fastest lap in the process.
In what was an unbelievable race meeting for McGuinness, he also took victory in the Supersport Junior TT and the Senior TT which brought his tally of wins at the Isle of Man classic to 11, and set a new lap record.
Although McGuinness well and truly stole the show at this year's IOM Festival, many Macau regulars were on the podium. In the Supersport Junior TT, the top seven drivers are all frequently seen on the grid at Macau and the top four in the Senior TT are all regulars, while Bruce Anstey won the TT Superstock race ahead of Ian Hutchinson and Jason Griffiths, all well-known names when it comes to the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.
The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, and a series of special events is planned to celebrate this unique two-wheel event.
In other news......
Two-time Macau Guia winner (1991 and 1992) Emanuele Pirro helped make history for Audi in the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours race in June when he, along with team mates Frank Biela and Marco Werner, took the Audi R10 TDI prototype sportscar to victory, the first ever diesel-powered car to win the event.
Australian Vern Schuppan, two-time Macau Grand Prix winner back in 1974 and 1976, has been elected to the Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1, an eminent organisation based in Monaco. Founded in 1962 by a group of former Grand Prix racers, which included Manuel Fangio, Schuppan's name was added alongside the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell, Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones. Famous former Formula One and Macau Grand Prix commentator, Murray Walker, was inducted as an honorary member at the same times as Schuppan.
Schuppan started in a total of 12 Formula 1 Grands Prix with Ensign, Hill and Surtees in the mid-1970's, and went on to drive in the Indianapolis 500 three times, his best finish being 3rd. In recent times, the popular South Australian has driven in fun events like the Classic Adelaide Rally.