In what would have been a memorable 47th Macau Grand Prix for some of the world's best Asian drivers, Asia's hopes of installing the first ever Asian winner for this prestigious event were dashed when pole sitter Narain Karthikeyan of India and ...
In what would have been a memorable 47th Macau Grand Prix for some of the world's best Asian drivers, Asia's hopes of installing the first ever Asian winner for this prestigious event were dashed when pole sitter Narain Karthikeyan of India and Japan's Takuma Sato (second on the start grid) both crashed out early in leg 1 of the two leg race last Sunday, the 19th of Nov 2000.
Malaysia's Alex Yoong also met the same fate as he moved up the field in leg 2 from 14th to 11th position when he tried overtaking Portugal's Tiago Monteiro on lap 6 of leg 2.
It was left to Japan's Ryo Fukuda, driving for the French La Filiere team who salvaged Asia's pride to grab the third podium spot after an incident packed 30lap (2 x 15laps) race at the tortuous 6.12km Macau Grand Prix circuit.
Earlier Karthikeyan had qualified in a sensational record time of 2m 12.887s to take pole from team mate Takuma Sato of Japan but crashed out on lap 6 of leg one when leading by more than 4 seconds from Portugal's Andre Couto. Sato had a very brief first leg when he braked too late for the infamous Lisboa corner while leading Karthikeyan on leg 1 and crashed into the barrier.
Alex had met slow traffic on each of his three flying laps during qualifying and had to start on the seventeenth grid position although his time of 2m 14.816s was good enough for the third spot on the grid in last year's Macau Grand Prix. Thirteen drivers from 7th to 19th qualifiers out of 30 competitors had qualified within a second of each other in the 2m 14s range, such was the extend of the tough competition this year.
Alex described his weekend as one of needing to play catch up in the races, "With a poor start position I really had to go all out for the races. Leg 1 was good as I had moved up to 11th from 17th until Italy's Gianmaria Bruni touched the barriers with me right behind him and I lost valuable positions which resulted me in having to start from 14th for leg 2. Again, I got into a really good rhythm to move up to 11th spot till I came up to Portugal's Monteiro. I had tried to pass him on my third attempt at Lisboa corner when our wheels made contact and I drifted wide straight into the barriers and that was it."
"The car this weekend had been very good. The Swiss Racing Team had done a very good job. It was down to me but I could not make full use of this advantage. There were traffic in the wrong moments of my qualifying and I supposed it would also have helped me a bit if I had tested the car in Europe to get use to a Formula 3 car again after a whole year of racing in the more powerful Formula Nippon cars in Japan." added Alex.
The race was won by Lisbon born Macanese resident Andre Couto in what was a fitting result in his sixth Macau GP attempt. Italy's Paulo Montin was second and Japan's Ryo Fukuda grabbed third from leg 1 winner Peter Kaffer of Germany.
Next Sunday, the 26th of November will be the Korea Grand Prix in Changwon, near Pusan, where all the teams will be moving from Macau to again find some year end honours to aid the drivers' dreams towards Formula 1 in the future.