Macau Grand Prix newsletter 2009-08-13

56th MACAU GRAND PRIIX BULLETIIN ISSUE 2 As the countdown to the Grand Prix begins, keep track of the riders and drivers who could be Macau-bound in November! Dates: November 19-22, 2009 Tickets: Accreditation: ...



As the countdown to the Grand Prix begins, keep track of the riders and drivers who could be Macau-bound in November!

Dates: November 19-22, 2009
Accreditation: (September 1 - October 23, 2009)


Alguersuari Becomes Youngest F1 Driver

Spain's Jaime Alguersuari, who made his Macau Grand Prix debut last year, became the youngest driver to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix, when the reigning British Formula 3 champion raced in the Hungarian Grand Prix, at 19 years old.

Driving for Toro Rosso, Alguersuari completed the race, finishing one place better than his teammate Sebastien Buemi.

The teenager admitted the physical challenges of the race. "I am very happy to have finished, but the last five laps were very difficult from the physical point of view. I found it hard to keep the car on the pace, but I am very satisfied. P15 is not so bad, but the main objective was to complete the 70 laps, with no mistakes, maintaining my pace. I have learned a lot but I have to say there are some aspects of F1 which made me think, 'this is tough.'"

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost felt Alguersuari had put forth a fine performance and promising start. "Well done to Jaime on finishing his first race, which means he's learned a lot this weekend. That was our main target with him. He will need another two races, after which I expect to see him make it through to Q2."

Last year Alguersuari competed in the Macau Grand Prix with Carlin Motorsport, finishing 10th in the Grand Prix, after qualifying sixth in the Qualification Race. Buemi raced twice at Macau, finishing fourth in 2006, with Carlin Motorsport, and 11th in 2007 with Raikkonen-Robertson Racing.

Gommendy Scores Win for FC Porto

2002 Macau Grand Prix winner, Tristan Gommendy, scored FC Porto's first victory of the season in the Superleague Formula at Donnington Park on August 2. The Frenchman used an early pit strategy to gain clear air over those who pitted later in the race.

Now in his second year with Porto, the 30-year old Frenchman sits fifth in the championship, behind series' leader Liverpool FC with driver Adrian Valles. The next races are set for September 5 and 6 at Estoril, Portugal.

Gommendy made his Macau debut in 2001, finishing 14th before returning the following year as the French F3 champion. Since his Macau victory in 2002, Gommendy has raced in GP2 and Champ Car, in addition to the Superleague Forumla.

Formula 3 Euro Series

Bianchi Leads Championship, Celebrates 5th Win

At the half-way mark of the 2009 season, Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix) continues to lead the field, 18 points ahead of second-place Christian Vietoris (Mucke Motorsport). At the 3.696 km circuit in Oschersleben, Germany, the 20-year old Frenchman won his fifth victory of the season in Race 1, taking the chequered flag by more than ten seconds over teammate Valtteri Bottas. From pole position, Bianchi won the dash to first corner and immediately pulled clear from the rest of the field. With Spaniard Roberto Merhi (Manor Motorsport) finishing third and Vietoris in fourth, Bianchi further widened the gap in the championship standings.

However, in Race 2, it was Vietoris who emerged victorious as the German benefitted from a 30-second time penalty handed to a total of 21 drivers, all of whom were deemed to have been driving too fast during a yellow flag period. While Stefano Coletti (Prema Powerteam) crossed the finish line first, he was dropped to second with the penalty, allowing Vietoris to take his third win of the season. Vietoris and Renger van der Zande (Motopark Academy) were the only drivers in the field to correctly slow down during the yellow flag period. Bianchi was classified sixth in the race.

Bianchi, the 2008 winner of the Masters of Formula 3, finished ninth in last year's Macau F3 Grand Prix. He is the grandson of Mauro Bianchi, the winner of the 1966 Macau Grand Prix. His teammate, Bottas, is this year's Masters of Formula 3 winner.

Cooper Tires British F3 International Series

Ricciardo Continues Run Atop Leaderboard

Australian Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport), has continued to impress in his first season of British Formula 3. The 19-year old has won four races so far, including one at Spa in July. With three race weekends left in the season, Ricciardo (right) leads Hitech Racing's Walter Grubmuller (far right) by 37 points. Grubmuller's teammate Renger van der Zande sits in third, a further 15 points behind.

Ricciardo, who began his singleseater career with Formula BMW Asia (now Pacific), got off to a promising start in his debut F3 season, winning three out of the first four races. Since then, he has been a model of consistency, finishing on the podium eight times in 14 races and within the top 5 in every race except two.


SEAT Leads the Charge as Macau Approaches

Reigning FIA WTCC champion Yvan Muller (SEAT Sport) holds a five-point lead over his teammate Gabriele Tarquini as the series revs up for the final races of the season. With the series mid-way through its six-week summer break, the teams and drivers will reunite in September in Germany at Oschersleben for Rounds 17-18. Following race weekends in Imola, Italy and Okayama, Japan, the series will conclude, for the fifth consecutive year, at the Macau Grand Prix.

Muller, who with SEAT won their first WTCC title in 2008, looks to be on form for a second consecutive win in 2009. However, Muller was only able to score two points during July's outing at Brands Hatch, which allowed his closest rivals, Tarquini and Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany), to move five and six points from him respectively. With eight races still to go, the championship is as competitive as ever, with four other drivers in with a shot at the title: Rickard Rydell (SEAT Sport), Robert Huff (Chevrolet), Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany), and Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK).

During Rounds 15-16 at Brands Hatch in July, Chevrolet ensured an all-blue front row, as drivers Alain Menu and Huff stole the show in qualifying. Menu, who last took pole at the 55th Macau Grand Prix, earned the position after a particularly close qualifying session which saw 16 drivers within one second of each other in Q1. Menu and Huff were both race winners at Macau last year.

In Round 15, Menu was the man to beat after the Swiss racer overtook Huff in the early stages. Huff finished second ahead of an aggressive Andy Priaulx. In Round 16, Farfus started from pole position on the reverse grid and led all the way to the flag, followed by teammate Jorg Muller, while Tarquini won a tough fight with Priaulx and Rydell for the final podium place.

Defending champion Muller was involved in a racing incident at the start of the first race, which meant he was only able to collect two points over the weekend. With the championship resuming on September 6 and a competitive field all vying for the same goal -- the 2009 FIA WTCC title -- the battle is sure to intensify.

FIA WTCC Celebrates 100th Race

The FIA WTCC celebrated a historical milestone in Porto in July, as the series reached the 100-race mark. Launched in 2005, the series, now in its fifth season, has seen continual growth since its inaugural event in April, 2005 at Monza.

The series quickly became popular, in part because the race cars resemble in appearance the same vehicles that its ever-growing fan base has parked on their driveways. The series has also continues to develop its global appeal, racing in Marrakesh for the first time in 2009, and has played a role in developing environmentallyconscious measures in motorsport with the switch to second-generation bio-fuel.

Continuity has been key to the series' success, as three out of the four registered manufactures competing in 2009 -- BMW, Chevrolet and SEAT -- were also part of the inaugural series in 2005. LADA joined the championship this year. Further, 10 out of this year's 28 drivers have been with the WTCC since that first race in Monza in 2005.


Mark "Thriller" Miller

A familiar face at the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, American Mark "Thriller" Miller will make his ninth visit to the Guia circuit this year. The good-humoured rider has reached as high as third in the Grand Prix and is hoping to go two better this year. He certainly doesn't lack the creativity or the passion to do so.

Miller began riding motorcycles at university, later than most professional racers, although he knew straight away that he wanted to race. He would have started earlier, but his parents wouldn't let him. Eventually, he began hiding the bikes down the street from his house, and whenever he had free time, he would dash down the street and spend time riding.

However, Miller was eventually forced reveal his secret: "When I graduated from university, I walked on stage in cap and gown, got my diploma and then I had to inform my whole family that I had been hiding the fact that I'd been racing at the local club all year, and we all needed to get to the racetrack so I could win the final race of the year and the championship," he says.

Despite their initial resistance to motorcycles, the family all came and Miller won the race!

Since then, Miller has competed in a number of different highly-competitive races all over the world, including the Isle of Man TT and the AMA national championship. Macau is still one of his favourite places to race, especially with the continual challenges of the Guia circuit: "The walls being so close really give us riders a unique and heightened sensation of speed as other racetracks have lengthy gravel traps separating the race bikes far from the fans," he explains as the reason why he keeps returning to the Grand Prix.

"The atmosphere is also fun, being able to hang out with some of my racing friends from around the world, having a laugh and a couple of beers."

Having first raced at Macau in 1998, Miller's favourite year was in 2000 when he finished third, his only time on the podium so far (he has finished fourth on two occasions): "I was on the podium with Michael Rutter and the late David Jefferies," he recalls. "That was really cool. It was a pretty good race between those two riders on the track, and I had a great seat to watch it. I'd love to visit the podium again this year."

This season, Miller has concentrated most of his efforts on the 2009 Isle of Man TT, where he finished just out of the top 10 in a few of the races. Ever-keen to compete, Miller says he is already looking forward to next year's TT, where he hopes he will be able to race with a faster machine.

As one of a small group of Americans to have raced several times at Macau, Miller is often quizzed by young riders about the event. His answers? "I let them in on a little secret that racing the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is one of the coolest things anyone can ever do," he says.

"It's a great, fun track that is fast in bits, tight in other, but always technical. The fact that the Armco is painted yellow and black really gives us an enormous sense of speeding through space in a spaceship. And I might mention how lucky I am to have been invited nine times now."

Like many of the Macau regulars, Miller has his favourite must-see visits, but you'll have to ask him in person if you want to know his insider secrets! Miller did say that he likes to see something different each year, be it the Fortress or getting a visa to go to neighbouring Zhuhai for the day. But whatever his downtime plans, the sentiment remains the same: "It's a fun place," he declares. "I love it!"


-credit: macau gp

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About this article
Series BF3 , Other bike , F3 Europe , F3 , WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Jorg Muller , Yvan Muller , Augusto Farfus , David Jefferies , Michael Rutter , Tristan Gommendy , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Walter Grubmuller , Stefano Coletti , Renger van der Zande , Daniel Ricciardo , Jaime Alguersuari , Jules Bianchi , Roberto Merhi , Valtteri Bottas
Teams Toro Rosso , Manor Racing , Mücke Motorsport , Carlin