Macau Grand Prix newsletter 11-09-2009

Macau Grand Prix newsletter 11-09-2009
Nov 9, 2009, 1:38 AM

WINDSOR ARCH 56th MACAU GRAND PRIX BULLETIN ISSUE 3 As the countdown to the Grand Prix begins, keep track of the riders and drivers who are Macau-bound in November! FORMULA 3 MACAU GRAND PRIX Alumni Update For the past 27 years, the Formula ...


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


Alumni Update

For the past 27 years, the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix has been the launching ground for hundreds of the world's best drivers. Find out what some of our Alumni have been up to!

Brabham Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Macau Victory with Banner Year

David Brabham, winner of the 1989 F3 Macau Grand Prix, not only captured an outright victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, but won the 2009 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) title, continuing the powerful legacy of the Brabham name.

The Australian and long-time United Kingdom resident claimed the 2009 ALMS title in his 11th year of racing in the series, with three pole positions, three victories and five second-place finishes.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and the ALMS title come during an important year as his father, Sir Jack, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his first Formula 1 World Title and David celebrates the 20th anniversary of his Macau Grand Prix victory.

Kunimoto Joins World Series by Renault Formula 3.5

Keisuke Kunimoto, winner of the 2008 F3 Macau Grand Prix, made his European single-seater debut when he joined Epsilon Euskadi for the final two events of the 2009 World Series by Renault Formula 3.5 season.

Kunimoto, who made his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, replaced Spaniard Dani Clos in the line-up for races at the Nurburgring and in the season finale in Motorland Aragon.

The four champions from Euroseries, British, Japanese and German Formula 3 gather in Macau this month for the iconic Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix. As they each prepare for what they hope will be a victorious Macau Grand Prix, the MGP Bulletin celebrates their winning 2009 season.

F3 Euroseries

Frenchman Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix) became the 2009 F3 Euro Series champion after the 20 -year old secured the title on October 11 at the 3.801 km Dijon- Prenois circuit. Germany's Christian Vietoris (Mucke Motorsport) finished second in the championship, with Bianchi's teammate Valtteri Bottas placing third overall and the top rookie in 2009.

Bianchi, the 2008 winner of the Masters of Formula 3 who finished ninth in last year's F3 Macau Grand Prix, will return to the Guia Circuit in November, contesting the iconic race with ART Grand Prix, the team with whom he won the F3 Euro Series title. The grandson of 1966 Macau Grand Prix winner Mauro Bianchi, the younger Bianchi had sought his grandfather's advice about Macau prior to his first visit last November. His grandfather remembered a tough and challenging circuit and a legion of cheering fans after winning the Macau Grand Prix. Now, one year later, Bianchi will return to the Guia Circuit as one of the favourites to win.

In the wake of his series title, Bianchi and ART Grand Prix have begun their venture for the 2010 GP2 Series, with Bianchi also set to take part in two rounds of the GP2 Asia Series in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Said ART Grand Prix general manager Frederic Vasseur: "Jules showed that he has all the necessary qualities to succeed in the higher levels of motorsport and it is only logical that we put our trust in him to defend the colours of ART Grand Prix in the GP2 series, which is the most competitive junior championship on the way to Formula One. "

Cooper Tires British F3 International Series

After dominating the 2009 British F3 Series, Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) is preparing for his first visit to the F3 Macau Grand Prix, where the newlycrowned champion is expected to be one of the favourites to conquer the famed Guia Circuit.

The 20-year old has quickly vaulted his way through the ranks of junior racing series, and indications point towards a possible F1 test in Spain in mid-December, as one of three Red Bull junior development drivers to be given the opportunity.

"Red Bull has told me to be prepared for it," Ricciardo has been quoted as saying recently "They've sent me a bit of a different (fitness) programme, especially more stuff based on the neck."

The native of Perth, Australia began his single-seater career with Formula BMW Asia (now Pacific) and in 2009 got off to an incredible start in his debut F3 season, winning three out of the first four races. In 20 races, Ricciardo (at right) would reach the podium 14 times and win seven races.

For the two season finale races at Brands Hatch, Ricciardo put in a virtuoso display, and his lights-to -flag victory in Round 19 demonstrated why he is this year's champion -- he twice lowered the lap record and claimed the biggest victory margin of the season on the way to his seventh win.

In Round 20, Ricciardo's Carlin Motorsport teammate Max Chilton, who will join him in Macau next month, also put in an impressive effort with a lights-toflag victory. Chilton, 18, finished fourth overall in the championship and won the Challenge Cup as the series' leading British driver.

Japanese Formula 3

Sweden's Marcus Ericsson (TOM's) became the 2009 Japan Formula 3 champion, after the 19- year old's winning performance during the final two rounds of the season at Sports Land Sugo. In Round 15, it was a sweep of the podium for TOM's, as Ericsson finished second behind Yuji Kunimoto (the younger brother of reigning F3 Macau Grand Prix champion Keisuke), and ahead of Takuto Iguchi, the runner-up in the 2009 championship. Ericsson did one better in the season finale Round 16, claiming victory ahead of Hironobu Yasuda (ThreeBond Racing) and Kunimoto.

Ericsson will make his second visit to Macau in November after racing in the 55th Macau Grand Prix in 2008, where, on the first lap of the race, he fell victim to the infamous Lisboa Bend. Ericsson, who began his single-seater career with Formula BMW UK , finished fifth in the 2008 British Formula 3 season, before deciding to contest a full season of Japan Formula 3 in 2009.

The Kumla native has competed in selected rounds of the 2009 British Formula 3 series, including four this summer, where he reached the podium three times, including two wins.

Since winning the Japan Formula 3 title, Ericsson has completed a GP2 test at Jerez, where he set the fastest time on the final day of the test.

ATS Formel 3 Cup

Scoring an impressive 11th win in the penultimate round at Oschersleben, Laurens Vanthoor (Van Amersfoort Racing) further punctuated a fantastic season, which saw the 18-year old capture the 2009 ATS Formel 3 Cup. His thirteen victories spread over 2008 and 2009 means Vanthoor has equaled the record for the total number of wins in the ATS Formel 3 Cup.

Winning at Oschersleben was like coming full circle for Vanthoor, as he had won the first race of the season at the 3.667 km circuit. After finishing fourth overall in 2008, he dominated in 2009, and will arrive in Macau in a few weeks' time hoping to better the sixth place finish he earned here last year.

"I was highly motivated to win Round 17," said Vanthoor (at right), who qualified third for the first of two final races of the season. "On top of that, with my total of 13 victories, two last year and eleven this season, I'm amongst the top of the victory rankings in German F3, together with Norberto Fontana, Jorg Muller and João Paulo Lima de Oliveira."

Vanthoor's Van Amersfoort Racing teammate Stef Dusseldorp finished second overall, while Zettl Sportsline driver Markus Pommer finished third.


Title to be Decided in Macau for Fifth Year

SEAT's Gabriele Tarquini leads the charge heading into the season finale in Macau, two other drivers remain in contention for the 2009 title: Defending champion and Tarquini's teammate, Yvan Muller, currently lies second, while BMW Team Germany driver Augusto Farfus kept his title hopes alive by winning the second of two races at the penultimate meeting of the season.

Rounds 21 and 22 on November 1, saw the current championship points' leader, Tarquini earn his fifth pole position of the year. However, heavy rain before the race saw it start under the Safety Car. Three laps later, the Safety Car came in and Tarquini led the way, only to go wide on the same lap, allowing three-time FIA WTCC champion Andy Priaulx to move into first and lead for the remainder of the race. Priaulx's BMW teammate Jorg Muller finished second, while Tarquini managed to work his way back up the field to take fifth in Race 1. After battling Alain Menu (Chevrolet), Farfus claimed eighth overall, giving him pole for Race 2.

BMW scored another 1-2 finish in the second race, with Farfus claiming the win and Priaulx, fourth in the championship, second. Yvan Muller finished third, while Tarquini crossed the line seventh after his teammates, Jordi Gene and Rickard Rydell, dropped back on the final lap.

Tarquini now comes to Macau with a two-point lead over Yvan Muller in the 2009 championship standings, while third-place Farfus is 13 points adrift of the leader. In the team championship, SEAT continues to lead the charge, while BMW's strong showing in Japan has put them only three points behind.

While Muller was pleased to have closed the gap to Tarquini, the defending FIA WTCC champion had hoped for the entire SEAT team to perform better: "It has been a positive weekend for me after closing the gap from Gabriele to two points but it has been bad for Gabriele and for SEAT in the Manufacturers' Championship," he said. "We knew we would struggle in the dry and thought we had a better chance in the wet, so we were surprised we were not so good. Macau will be interesting!"


Find out what the field of experienced veterans and talented newcomers have been up to as they prepare for the 43rd edition of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.

British Superbike Championship

With his first Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix victory leading to a fulltime ride with Hydrex Honda in the 2009 British Superbike Championship, Briton Stuart Easton performed superbly this season, finishing third overall. Easton reached the podium 14 times throughout the season and his successes included two victories, at Croft and Oulton Park. Easton is expected to partner with Hydrex Honda again in 2010.

In the supporting Fuchs- Silkolene British Supersport Championship, two-time Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Steve Plater is the 2009 series champion after winning the final race of the season at Oulton Park.

Said Plater, who won back-toback Macau Motorcycle Grands Prix in 2006 and 2007: "It was a mega race and I knew I wanted to win it. Me and Billy [McConnell] had taken three each until this round and I wanted to win in style and I could only do that by winning the race. It is all credit to the HM Plant Honda team and it has been a great season-long battle between myself and Billy and I am just so happy to be the new champion."

Life in the Fast Lane with Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix Competitors

It's probably impossible to say which team has the most fun during the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, but one thing's for sure -- you can count on Team of Paris as being one of the contenders! But of course, racing comes first and with six-time Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Michael Rutter on the Team of Paris -- AXA Racing squad along with Gerald Muteau, who stood on the podium in the Supersport 600cc category in 2008, Amaury Baratin and newcomer Simon Andrews, the team will be a force to be reckoned with this year.

Rutter is particularly determined to perform well in Macau this year as he says the 2009 British Superbike Season was one of his toughest ever, but that only increases the motivation for him..

This year will be Rutter's 15th visit to Macau -- but does the Guia Circuit ever get any easier?

"I feel so at home and comfortable at Macau and really enjoy the race so much that even training at 7am is nearly a pleasure," he says. "But for the race itself, it gets harder as the bikes get faster. "

This will be Andrews's first time racing in Macau, with the 26-year old coming off a strong season in the British Superbike Championship, finishing sixth overall. The Briton says he is looking forward to coming to Macau and will look to his teammates for advice both on and off the track, saying: "The lads on the team have said that it is an amazing place and that they will show me the best places to go!"

Frenchman Baratin, who made his Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix debut in 2008, already has some advice: "I would say to any newcomer to learn the track without thinking about the clock. Never push yourself over the limit and enjoy the track to improve your performance. To me, Macau is the most demanding track in the world as you need to know where the borderline is, but to never cross it. Being with my friends from Team of Paris on the other side of the planet to race such a prestigious legendary race is like a dream to me."

This year's Macau Grand Prix looks to be particularly competitive, and while Rutter is naturally one of the favourites, he will face some tough competition. Last year's winner Stuart Easton and the 2008 pole man Conor Cummins are two names that come to Rutter's mind, as are Isle of Man TT winner Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness, who has had a fantastic 2009 season.

"It should be a really good race!" Rutter predicts.

Away from the circuit, the riders each have their own must-see destinations, but then again it appears the entire city is not to be missed.

"All of Macau is my favourite," Muteau says. "I'm like a kid in Disneyland there, with wide open eyes every second! My secret place to relax during the Grand Prix is Fisherman's Wharf. I walk there between the qualifications and can relax in less than 10 minutes. There's no other track in the world where you can do that. Once I'm relaxed, I walk back to pit lane full of positive energy."

-credit: macu gp

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