By Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite - Motorsport.com 48th Macau Grand Prix November 15th/18th 2001 Leg 2 Weather: Clear, hot, sunny. After the mayhem of Leg 1 of this event, it was a surprise that there were 23 cars on the grid. Only six...
By Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite - Motorsport.com
48th Macau Grand Prix
November 15th/18th 2001
Weather: Clear, hot, sunny.
After the mayhem of Leg 1 of this event, it was a surprise that there were 23 cars on the grid. Only six drivers had gone missing. They were Mark Taylor (the tub of his Dallara was broken), Jonathan Cochet (Dallara beyond repair), Ryo Fukuda (driver concussed and not medically fit to race even if the car could have been fixed), Peter Sundberg (see Cochet), Raffaele Giammaria (and again) and Sakon Yamamoto (ditto). The only really happy people were the Dallara sales representatives... and even they weren't too happy as the story going round was that there were only six spare chassis in the place, which was not enough to get everything fixed.
Anyway, the survivors lined up, somewhat later than planned, to take the start for the second leg of the 48th running of the Macau Grand Prix. The big worry was that the guys in the middle of the grid were not used to being that far forward, and would simply get swamped by the faster men, who now found themselves starting from the back. Lei Kit Meng (Fortec Motorsport), was certainly determined not to cause a problem for anyone, and simply pulled over to the side at the first corner, letting just about everyone go past before he was prepared to continue. This seemed to cause some amusement to his team but at least he didn't get in the way and he didn't break the car either. It was a gentlemanly gesture but you have to wonder what someone as slow as that is doing in a race like this in the first place. At the front, this time, Takuma Sato made a blistering start, though he did just kiss the barrier into the first corner. Takuma's getaway left Bjorn Wirdheim to blink and find himself briefly swamped by a gaggle of other competitors all looking for places; he would then lose 2nd place to Benoit Treluyer. Meanwhile Heikki Kovalainen was looking for traction, his Fortec car bogging down on the grid. By the time he was able to get off the line, he was a good three quarters of a lap down on the field and half expecting to find Sato looming in his mirrors by the first corner. Luckily for him, he wasn't quite as far back as he thought and he set off in a furious mood to try and at least catch the back markers.
While Sato pulled away, Wirdheim was piling the pressure on in his attempts to repass Treluyer. Further back Yuji Ide was on the move, passing Matteo Bobbi easily, while Michael Ho was passed by just about everyone except Kovalainen, and Marchy Lee, the only surviving Saulnier Racing runner. The real movement at this stage was coming from Paolo Montin, the Italian charging hard and setting fastest lap of the race - perhaps he was charging too hard though. On the next lap, he was missing from the ranks of the front-runners, instead limping up the pit lane with no left rear tyre to speak of. The resulting pit stop cost him valuable time and effectively put him out of the running for the combined result.
At the front, the gap was reducing as Sato took it steadily and Treluyer, having succeeded in putting some space between himself and Wirdheim, began to try and close on the No. 6 car. It looked as if he might be able to take the fight to Sato. Later it would appear the Carlin team leader was just playing with the Japanese series champion however, as Sato increased the gap on the next lap, steadied his pace again, and then pulled out further whenever it looked as if Treluyer was gaining. The Japanese steadily pulled away after that, opening the gap to around 5 seconds by the end of the race, impressing the pursuing Treluyer no end even as he struggled to keep up. Sato's only real regret was that he would lose out on the fastest lap, though he had the team worried for a while as he insisted he wanted to be able to set it.
While Montin was returning to the fray with a full complement of tyres, Derek Hayes was another driver pressing on, the Irishman endeavouring to make amends for his disappointing first leg and setting the fastest lap of the race on the way to 11th place in Leg 2. He despatched Haruki Kurosawa with ease and then set off after Peter Hackett, the third Carlin driver. It was a furious pursuit, though it took him a long time to get past the garrulous Australian when he finally caught up with him, Hackett seemingly enjoying himself immensely out there despite finding it very tough going. While Tristan Gommendy also slipped down the order, the French driver having taken a very hard knock in the morning's crash bonanza, Hackett started to fall into the clutches of some of Europe's finest F3 drivers, both Toshihiro Kaneishi and Joao Paolo de Oliveira passing him by the end of lap 7. Of course, they were both trying to recover from failing to take the morning restart, while Tiago Monteiro was trying to retrieve some sort of honour as well, having lost two laps for a pit stop in Leg 1. He was at the head of a squabbling trio that included Andy Priaulx and Pierre Kaffer and lead the way past Bobbi, before they ended up bottled up behind Ide, scrapping furiously for 5th place.
Kovalainen had caught up with the back end of the field by now and was starting to make inroads on the back markers, reaching 20th by the close of lap 7. He continued to make places but a 4-kilometre disadvantage at the start takes some making up - there really wasn't enough time for the cheerful Finn to really make an impression. Even so, his survival in the first race enabled him to be classified in the Top 10 overall at the end of the race, an impressive debut by anyone's standards.
The main interest now lay in watching what was happening to Ide. With Monteiro all over him, but having to watch his own back for Priaulx and Kaffer this battle was really hotting up now. Monteiro made a move, was blocked by Ide and promptly lost a place to Priaulx who has never been reluctant to take his chances when they arise. This left Monteiro to fend off Kaffer while Priaulx finally got past Ide on Lap 12. The Japanese was unsettled enough that both Monteiro and Kaffer were able to follow through shortly afterwards and he had lost three places in two laps and would fall back, having clearly been holding the other three up for a long time. Monteiro would hold 6th place all the way to the flag, despite everything Kaffer could throw at him, the Portuguese finally coming home less than a second ahead of the German.
Ahead of the furious foursome, Kosuke Matsuura was having a very quiet afternoon, getting a distant view of Wirdheim who was now mounting another assault on Treluyer as they came up to pass the back markers. This distracted Treluyer enough that Wirdheim almost made it, but as they got clear of the slower cars, the Swede couldn't quite make it stick and he would have to settle reluctantly for 3rd place overall at the end of the afternoon.
In a hard won 9th place for this leg was a rather battered Gommendy, while Bruce Jouanny, another who had lost laps for repair damage in Leg 1 was 10th, just ahead of Hayes, after the two of them dispatched Bobbi in short order just before the chequered flag.
<pre> Leg 2 - Classification: 1st - No. 6 - Takuma Sato, J, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F301 Honda-Mugen, 33:35.772, 15 laps 2nd - No. 3 - Benoit Treluyer, F, Mugen X Dome Project, Dallara F301 Honda-Mugen, Gap: 4.410 3rd - No. 27 - Bjorn Wirdheim, S, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F301 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 6.858 4th - No. 28 - Kosuke Matsuura, J, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F301 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 11.119 5th - No. 30 - Andy Priaulx, GB, Promatecme, Dallara F301 Honda-Mugen, Gap: 29.678 6th - No. 18 - Tiago Monteiro, P, ASM-Elf, Dallara F399 Renault-Sodemo, Gap: 31.389 7th - No. 10 - Pierre Kaffer, D, Team Kolles Racing, Dallara F300 Honda-Mugen, Gap: 31.997 8th - No. 26 - Yuji Ide, J, Signature Competition, Dallara F399 Renault-Sodemo, Gap: 34.589 9th - No. 17 - Tristan Gommendy, F, ASM-Elf, Dallara F399 Renault-Sodemo, Gap: 43.107 10th - No. 31 - Bruce Jouanny, F, Promatecme, Dallara F301 Honda-Mugen, Gap: 48.544 11th - No. 15 - Derek Hayes, GB, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F300 Honda-Mugen, Gap: 48.999 12th - No. 36 - Matteo Bobbi, I, Target Racing, Dallara F301 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 50.749 13th - No. 19 - Joao Paulo de Oliveira, BR, Swiss Racing Team, Dallara F399 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 51.243 14th - No. 20 - Haruki Kurosawa, J, Swiss Racing Team, Dallara F399 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 1:21.125 15th - No. 9 - Marchy Lee, C, Saulnier Racing, Dallara F399 Renault-Sodemo, Gap: 1:22.221 16th - No. 7 - Peter Hackett, AUS, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F300 Honda-Mugen, Gap: 1:30.959 17th - No. 23 - Heikki Kovalainen, SF, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F301 Renault-Sodemo, Gap: 1:55.253 18th - No. 32 - Michael Ho, MAC, Cram Competition, Dallara F301 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 2:08.541 19th - No. 22 - Lei Kit Meng, MAC, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F301 Renault-Sodemo, Gap: 1 lap 20th - No. 12 - Paulo Montin, I, Tom's, Dallara F301 Toyota Toms, Gap: 1 lap 21st - No. 29 - Jo Merszei, MAC, Cram Competition, Dallara F301 Opel-Spiess, Gap: 2 laps
Not Classified: No. 1 - Toshihiro Kaneishi, J, Opel Team BSR, Dallara F300 Opel-Spiess, Lap 12 No. 2 - Enrico Toccacelo, I, Opel Team BSR, Dallara F300 Opel-Spiess, Lap 3
Did Not Start: No. 16 - Mark Taylor, GB, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F300 Honda-Mugen No. 25 - Jonathan Cochet, F, Signature Competition, Dallara F399 Renault-Sodemo No. 8 - Ryo Fukuda, J, Saulnier Racing, Dallara F399 Renault-Sodemo No. 21 - Peter Sundberg, S, Three Bond, Dallara F301 Nissan-Tomei No. 33 - Raffaele Giammaria, I, Team Kolles Racing, Dallara F300 Honda-Mugen No. 11 - Sakon Yamamoto, J, Tom's, Dallara F301 Toyota-Toms
Fastest Lap: No. 15 - Derek Hayes, GB, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F301 Mugen-Honda, Lap 11, 2:12.921, 102.99mph/165.75kph