As the countdown to the Grand Prix continues, keep track of the drivers and riders who could be Macau-bound in November!
FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup
Hulkenberg Grabs Victory in F3 Masters
Often regarded as an indicator of who may fare well come the end-of-year decider the Macau Grand Prix, the Masters of F3 was moved from its usual home at the Zandvoort Circuit in Holland this year to Belgium's Zolder circuit due to environmental regulations in the Netherlands.
The race was won by F3 Euroseries front-runner Nicolas, or "Nico", Hulkenberg with Macau regulars ASM. The German, who just turned 20, only made his car racing debut in 2005, but is quickly climbing the ladder. Fifth in the German F3 Championship last year, and in the 2006/2007 A1GP season his eight wins clinched the championship for Germany.
Second and third across the line were the Signature Plus French duo of Yann Clairay and Jean Karl Vernay, while a surprising fourth was New Zealand's Brendon Hartley in his first ever Formula 3 outing.
ASM team master Romain Grosjean took pole position for the race, but unfortunately stalled at the start, commenting after the race: "Oh well, I'll just have to win Macau and then nobody will speak about this again."
FIA World Touring Car Championship
Farfus Leads Championship by Single Point
A crowd estimated at 39,000 turned out to watch Rounds 15 and 16 of the FIA WTCC at the Oschersleben track in Germany recently.
Race one marked an historic moment for motorsport when Yvan Muller scored the first ever victory for a diesel-fuelled car in a world championship round, taking the win in his SEAT Leon TDI ahead of a long line of petrol-propelled cars. The result was even more remarkable given that it was only the second outing for the car which had made its debut just three weeks earlier at Anderstorp.
Racing on their "home" circuit, BMW took their revenge in the second race, which was dominated by a thrilling duel between Augusto Farfus and reigning champion Andy Priaulx. Their first and second place finishes put them top of the championship standings, with Farfus heading the leaderboard by just a single point.
The championship continues at Brands Hatch, UK, on September 23rd and 24th, for rounds 17 and 18, followed by just two more races in Monza, Italy before the FIA WTCC heads to Macau for another thrilling season-closer.
With "green" an increasingly hot topic in motor racing circles, Volvo is the first manufacturer to take part in an FIA WTCC event with a bio-fuel powered car. Volvo Car Corporation entered the Polestar Racing team at Anderstorp in July to support the WTCC's green agenda. The Swedish team entered a Volvo S60 Flexifuel powered by Ethanol E85.
Starting this year, the FIA WTCC initiative, managed by ClimateNeutral Group, includes a commitment from to offset 100% of the carbon dioxide (CO") emissions emitted by the races. The WTCC rounds will become 'climate neutral' by investing in offsetting schemes that will go through a rigorous process of verification and validation to ensure and demonstrate the CO" emissions saved.
This programme completes the FIA WTCC's Green Road Map that also plans to introduce bio-ethanol fuel alongside unleaded petrol and diesel in 2008, before switching to an all bio- fuel powered championship in 2009.
Prior to launching this CO" offset programme, FIA WTCC had already implemented a number of sustainable practices to reduce its impact on the environment, including: Catalytic converter, Unleaded fuel, Noise control, Technical check, Alternative fuels / diesel & bio- ethanol, Event format with limited track time.
Legendary MV Agusta in Frame for Macau Debut
The MV Agusta, a legend in Italian motorcycle history, could be set to make its Macau debut this November, with Irish regular Martin Finnegan on board.
Steeped in history, the Agusta story goes back to 1907, when Giovanni Agusta, a pioneer in the fledgling Italian aeronautics industry, founded what was then an aircraft company. Upon his death in 1927, his wife and son decided to shift manufacture to motorcycles. World War II interrupted production but in 1945 the first MV Agusta was unveiled, and the following year the marque began competing on a regular basis.
When the founder's son Count Domenico died in the early 1970's, the Martin Finnegan company was forced into a dramatic restructuring, and one of the repercussions was the decision to abandon motorcycle production. The dashing Giacomo Agostini, who won 10 Isle of Man TT races all on MV Agustas, took the legendary motorcycle to its final victory at the Nurburgring in 1976.
In 1986 the company was briefly, but dramatically, back in the news when a trade advertisement for the sale of bikes, prototypes, bodies and engines from the company's legendary racing division resulted in calls by the Italian media for government intervention to protect what was considered by many to be part of the nation's heritage. However, the calls went unheeded, but in 1992 the company rose from the ashes when the trademark was purchased by the Castiglioni group.
Claudio Castiglioni decided to build a new engine for the motorcycle almost from scratch, while the design was placed in the capable hands of Massimo Tamburini, a master with many years experience with BIMOTA (a name derived from "Bianchi, Morri, Tamburini"). The new prototype was completed in 1997 the MV Agusta F4, and in 1999 the F4 Gold Series, with a top speed of 280kph, was in action at Italy's Monza circuit for the first time. So impressive was the motorcycle that it was immediately snapped up by the rich and famous, including King Juan Carlos of Spain and Eddie Jordan.
Most recently, Carl Fogarty has voiced hopes to campaign an MV Agusta in next season's World Superbike Championship, and the sight of the legendary motorcycle on Macau's Guia Street circuit for the first time this year would definitely be one for the history books.
Fastest Ever Roads Lap for John McGuinness John McGuinness proved his skill on the world's fastest street circuits yet again when he set the fastest-ever roads lap at the Dundrod 150 race in Northern Ireland recently. His scorching lap at 131.72mph was the fastest lap speed among all the traditional road events, despite the field running in a mass start and not against the clock as in the Isle of Man. However, he missed out on victory by just 0.01s to another Macau regular and his arch rival Guy Martin. McGuinness' HM Plant Honda team mate and 3rd place finisher at Macau last year Ian Hutchinson was third.
The achievements of Macau regular John McGuiness have been recognised by the City of Lancaster in the UK. The rider, who won in Macau in 2001, has finished on the podium no fewer than six times, and holds 13 Isle of Man TT victories, was made an Honorary Freeman of the City. McGuiness is just the tenth person and the only sportsman to be granted the honour, which is bestowed upon those who have served in an exceptional capacity.