All the winners

It was a successful weekend for Portugal at this year’s Macau Grand Prix

This was Félix da Costa’s second F3 victory in Macau after he took the top spot in 2012. He is the only Portuguese national to have won Macau’s F3 race.

Speaking to the press after the race about his second Macau victory, he said: “Maybe it feels better I think. I was not supposed to come, I am not meant to be here, I am not meant to race an F3 car – so none of this makes sense! I am so happy that I did it, and I have to thank my team – because they gave me the car to do it. I am just a happy boy.”

For the past two years, Félix da Costa has been competing in the German DTM touring car championship as well as driving Formula E (electric) cars when the opportunity allowed. Therefore his domi­nance in Macau this year as he returned to Formula 3 came as some­what of a surprise.

“We came here with a car that had not a single sponsor, but it doesn’t matter. I love this race, I love this car and this track,” Antonio added.

The 25-year-old driver admitted that he had been quite relaxed throughout the meet until the day of the main race, when his compatri­ot, Tiago Monteiro won his event in the morning.

“Tiago made my life super hard because he won. My dad called me last night and said ‘oh if the two of you win it would be historical’, and then he won!” laughed Antonio.

After winning the qualification race on Saturday, Félix da Costa found himself in pole position for Sunday’s event, but the Carlin driver initially lost the lead to teammate Sérgio Sette Câmara. With a Safety Car restart on lap seven he managed to retake the top spot and then hold on for victory 1.6 seconds ahead of 2014/2015 winner Felix Rosenqvist racing for Theodore Racing Team, and three seconds ahead of Câmara.

Earlier in the day, fellow countryman, Tiago Monteiro took victory in the Suncity Group Macau Guia Race. Monteiro has been a regular competitor in Macau over the years, and this was his first ever victory around the Guia street circuit. The Portuguese driver had started the main event from third on the grid, but made a brilliant getaway to surge into the lead past front row starters Stefano Comini and Jean Karl Vernay.

A red flag was brought out on lap three after a crash at Police. After a lengthy delay to clear the track, the race was eventually restarted behind a safety car for what would be a two-lap shoot-out. Monteiro got away cleanly again and finished the race 0.926 seconds ahead of Vernay.

“It is fantastic, really fantastic,” said the WestCoast Racing driver. “I have been here many times in F3 and WTCC – and I was close to winning a few times. Two years ago there were just three corners left and my power steering broke. I lost everything then – so I needed revenge here in Macau.   I knew we could do it and when this opportunity came up I accepted it right away”. 

Dramatic Finish

The SJM Macau GT Cup – FIA World Cup finished in spectacular fashion with Belgian Laurens Vanthoor crashing into the barrier just after Mandarin bend and his car flipping into the air, landing on its roof and skidding for a long stretch down the straight.  Amazingly no other cars were involved and Vanthoor got out of the car unscathed, much to the relief of fans, his teammates and his wife who was watching from pitlane. 

“I’m completely fine, Audi builds very strong cars,” remarked Vanthoor after the race.  “I have some nasty images in my head right now which are a bit scary but I was happy to see my wife and the rest of my family when I came back”.

 

The previous day, Vanthoor had driven to victory in the Qualification Race, after a tough battle with second place finisher Earl Bamber in his Manthey Racing Porsche.  Starting from Pole position for Sunday’s main event, Vanthoor got a clean break away from the rest of the field, while his rival and last year’s winner Maro Engels was hit by Bamber, with the latter being handed a five second penalty as a result.

On Lap 2 the race was suspended after Australian Ricky Capo crashed at Fishermen’s. At the restart, Bamber got past Vanthoor and charged into the lead. However, as Vanthoor followed him through Mandarin, he clipped the apex curve, hit the barrier and crashed.  The race was not restarted and the results declared after four laps, with Vanthoor still in the lead at that time and thus ending up the winner.

“It’s a strange way to win such a big race,” admitted Vanthoor. “I wanted to win this one really bad and I’ve done it but it’s not a good way. I would have preferred to have crossed the finish line and won it. At least we’ve shown all weekend that we were strong and that we were in the fight for the win, at least that shows that we kind of deserved it."

 

Hickman goes back-to-back

While the GT Cup race may have been disappointing for fans, the same cannot be said for the golden jubilee Motorcycle Grand Prix event.   Instead fans got a classic confrontation from the greatest road racers in the world, with Britain’s Peter Hickman (Bathams/SMT BMW) managing to take the checkered flag and defend his title from last year.

Pole man Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) didn’t get the start he needed, and Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT BMW) seized the moment, streaking off the line in pursuit of win number nine.  But Jessopp wasn’t done and soon became the focal point of a battle which raged throughout the opening laps, four riders in a two-second spread; Rutter, Jessopp and newcomer Glenn Irwin swapping places in the slipstream and under brakes in all the classic overtaking spots, with Hickman right behind.

Gearbox troubles braking into Lisboa sent Jessopp back to fourth and lucky to be upright, but he was soon back on the pace and back up to battle Hickman for second-place honours.

Rutter looked like he might take the win, but with a couple of laps to go Hickman swept past him on better condition tyres. Rutter was hounded all the way to the flag by a determined Martin Jessopp and the trio crossed the line with less than a second separating them, Hickman the winner by half a second, Rutter a mere tenth ahead of Jessopp.