Macau: Event preview

Epic Battle on Cards for Ultimate Prize Macau will host the FIA World Touring Car Championship title-decider for the fourth consecutive year in 2008, with the best tin-top drivers in the world doing battle in the Guia Race of Macau - ...

Epic Battle on Cards for Ultimate Prize

Macau will host the FIA World Touring Car Championship title-decider for the fourth consecutive year in 2008, with the best tin-top drivers in the world doing battle in the Guia Race of Macau - Presented by Sociedade de Jogos to Macau, S.A.

The championship will be decided with a pair of 9-lap races. With the top eight finishers in race one reversed at the front of the grid in the second, and 10 points available for the winner of both, action is guaranteed in both races.

SEAT arrive in Macau on the verge of claiming an historic first FIA WTCC title, with Yvan Muller, who was denied the crown with a late race fuel pump problem last year, looking to avenge his defeat in 2008.

"Last year is a very bad memory for me, but obviously I want to put it right," says Muller. "I have always gone well at street circuits - and Macau is the best of them all - so I hope the bad luck will stay away this time!"

Muller is likely to face competition from within his own team as he bids to end three-time champion Andy Priaulx's run of success. Italian Gabriele Tarquini, who raced in Formula 1 from 1989-1995, is still a great competitor at the age of 46 and is looking to add the FIA WTCC crown to the European Touring Car title he won in 2003.

"I still enjoy racing as much as ever and to go to a great track like Macau after a season of fighting for the title is a great feeling," said Tarquini. "The most important thing for SEAT is that we win the title and it should be a great event for us."

A third SEAT driver, 1992 Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix winner Rickard Rydell, could also still be in contention for the title at Macau. He has great memories of racing at a track that he made his debut at in 1988.

"Macau has always been very special," said Rydell. "Even though it is a street circuit it is very fast and what makes it special is that you can't make any mistakes. At Macau you do 250km/h at the end of the straight with no run-off which is a great feeling."

But the driver with the most successful memories of Macau is Andy Priaulx. In 2007, he won the second race to seal his hat-trick of FIA WTCC titles, all of them sealed at Macau. BMW has had to fight hard to keep pace with the SEATs this year, but the Guernseyman has turned in some great performances in Macau over the years. "I do love that track," says Priaulx of Macau. "I love the challenge of driving there - it is just a fantastic circuit. Driving through Mandarin at 200 km/h, the atmosphere, the whole carnival feeling. It has got something special. It's fast, it's flowing, it's exciting and you just get a buzz there. Just completing a lap there gives you a buzz."

BMW team-mate Jorg Muller, who has also been in the thick of the title fight this season, is another who sees Macau as a unique track.

"It's the most special circuit in the world," says Muller. "It's so diverse. You have really fast corners, you have the hairpin which is probably the slowest corner in the whole championship and then you've got Mandarin which is nearly flat!"

But there will not only be BMWs and SEATs in action, Chevrolet Lacetti driver Robert Huff has had his best season ever and could still be in title contention as he bids for his first Macau win.

"To win at Macau would just be a dream," says Huff. "It's tracks like this that remind you why you are a racing driver in the first place. It's a fantastic event, a fantastic track and a fantastic experience - to go to Macau in contention for the championship would be a dream."

One of these drivers will be crowned the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Champion in Macau. With the greatest prize in tin-top racing at stake, expect action and lots of it.

Local wild card entries for the FIA WTCC season grand finale are 2000 Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix winner Andre Couto, once again entered with N.technology but this year in a Honda Accord Euro R, and Macau veteran racer Ao Chi Hong with his eponymous Ao's Racing Team in a BMW 320i. From Singapore comes Porsche Carrera Cup Asia regular Melvin Choo with ThunderAsia Racing, and the Hong Kong entry is former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion Matthew Marsh, racing in the colours of City of Dreams Macau. Both Choo and Marsh will be racing a BMW 320si.

-credit: macau grand prix committee

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Jorg Muller , Yvan Muller , Matthew Marsh , Ao Chi Hong