Macau Grand Prix newsletter 2009-06-22

56th Macau Grand Prix Information Dates: November 19-22, 2009 Tickets: As the countdown to the Grand Prix begins, keep track of the riders and drivers who could be Macau-bound in November! FORMULA 3 MACAU GRAND ...

Macau Grand Prix newsletter 2009-06-22

56th Macau Grand Prix Information
Dates: November 19-22, 2009

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


Masters of Formula 3

Bottas masterful at Zandvoort

F3 Euroseries driver Valtteri Bottas (ART Grand Prix) became the first Finnish champion of the Masters of Formula 3, winning the 2009 race from lights to chequered flag at Zandvoort on June 14. Joining Bottas on the podium were fellow Euroseries competitors Mika Maki (Signature) and Stefano Coletti (Prema Powerteam). In fourth was Bottas's Euroseries teammate and defending Masters champion Jules Bianchi. Alexander Sims (Mucke) rounded out the top five.

The victory was ART's sixth consecutive win in the Masters and Coletti's third-place finish made him the first Monegasque to land on the Masters podium.

Bottas got off to a strong start from pole position, fending off a challenge from Maki. By the end of the first third of the race, Bottas had nearly a four-second lead over Maki, which was, by race's end, reduced to 2.610 seconds. With Bottas and Maki fighting at the front, Coletti and Bianchi were engaged in their own battle for the final podium position. Coletti won out and Bianchi, who had qualified for pole position prior to being penalized for blocking other drivers during the final qualifying session, finished just off of the podium.

While Bottas, the reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion, has yet to make his debut at the Macau Grand Prix, Maki just missed the podium in 2008, finishing fourth, while Bianchi had a top-ten finish and Sims finished eighth and qualified third in Formula BMW Pacific's season ending round at the Macau Grand Prix.

Formula 3 Euro Series

Hartley named Red Bull Racing's reserve driver

New Zealand's Brendon Hartley made great strides towards his goal of Formula 1 after the 19-year old was named Red Bull Racing's reserve and test driver in early May. Hartley, who competed at the Macau Grand Prix in both 2007 and 2008, finished third at last year's race, catapulting from the back of the field onto the podium.

Hartley has been supported by Red Bull since 2005, and the promising young driver was awarded his super-license just in time for May's Spanish Grand Prix. Along with his Red Bull Racing duties, Hartley has been performing well in both the F3 Euroseries with Carlin Motorsport and selected rounds of the World Series by Renault with Tech 1 Racing.

Cooper Tires British F3 International Series

Former Formula BMW Junior tops leaderboard

Australian ace Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) has been making waves in the 2009 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, taking four victories in six starts, with one pole position. He currently leads the championship points table, and had impressed throughout winter testing.

Ricciardo began his international motorsport career in 2006, when he won a coveted scholarship for Formula BMW Asia (now Pacific). He found success on track, finishing third in the Drivers Classification that season, and 5th in the Formula BMW World Final, the end-of-season race consisting of drivers from each of the three Formula BMW series.

Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix Alumni Update

Conway impresses on Indy500 debut

Briton Mike Conway found success in his debut at the Indy500 on May 24. The 2006 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix champion ran as high as tenth in his first attempt at the iconic American race, and was the highest-finishing rookie.

With an overall placing of 18th, Conway moved up nine positions from his 27th starting position. The 25-year old put in a sensational effort during the 200-lap race and had it not been for a late pit stop to refuel and a long, late yellow flag, Conway could have very well stayed within the top 10.

The 2009 Indy500 was only the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver's second oval race.

For the past two years, the former F3 British champion was with GP2, first driving with Super Nova Racing and then, last year, with Trident Racing. However, Conway decided to transition to the US Indy Racing League in 2009 and now four races into the season, Conway sits 21st in the points.

Prior to the race, it was unclear if Conway would even be allowed to start. A crash on Turn 1 during a practice session two weeks before the race caused Conway to suffer a bruised lung and mild concussion. Subsequently he was kept in hospital overnight for observation, while fellow Macau Grand Prix winner Darren Manning was put on standby.

Brabham wins at Le Mans

David Brabham, the 1989 Macau Grand Prix winner, took home his first Le Mans 24-hour victory along with teammates Alexander Wurz and Marc Gene. The trio's Peugeot beat out another Peugeot team of Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Bourdais.

Wurz competed in the Macau Grand Prix twice -- in 1994 and in 1995, where he placed seventh.

An elated Brabham said he was delighted with the victory, especially as his brother Geoff had won the Le Mans 24-hour race in a Peugeot in 1993.


Muller in strong championship defense

With 12 races complete, Yvan Muller (SEAT Sport) leads the driver standings in the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship. For the fifth straight year, the FIA WTCC will conclude its championship with two races at the Macau Grand Prix in November.

The 2009 championship kicked off in Brazil with reigning champion Muller continuing his fine form by winning the first race of the year. Having taken his first FIA WTCC championship title in 2008, Muller is looking strong again this season, having increased his points lead to 10 points over his teammate Gabriele Tarquini after last weekend's two rounds in Brno, Czech Republic, which were won by BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers Alessandro Zanardi and Sergio Hernandez.

There is still over half a season to go before the FIA WTCC returns to Macau, and if the past four years provide any hints at the outcome, then the 56th Macau Grand Prix should not be missed!


Macau riders shine at Isle of Man TT

Two-time Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Steve Plater took a dramatic win in the Senior TT at the demanding Isle of Man TT recently, beating fellow Macau regular Conor Cummins.

The win capped off a successful week for the Briton, who finished with a second-place finish and three other top-five finishes. The victory was Plater's second TT win in only three years of competing on one of the world's most challenging courses.

Plater and his teammate, former Macau winner John McGuinness, set the pace during the Senior TT, with McGuinness smashing his own lap record -- an incredible 131.578mph lap on Lap 2. McGuinness was later forced to retire with a broken chain.

The weeklong festival was first interrupted by rain and heavy winds, cancelling racing on the first Saturday and then the Sunday as well.

When racing began on Monday, the first race of the festival, the Superbike TT, was won McGuinness. It was the Briton's 15th TT victory and he was joined on the podium by Plater and Guy Martin.

The 2009 Isle of Man TT was also successful for Ian Hutchinson, who won both the Supersport TT Race 1 and the Superstock TT. Two other top-five finishes made Hutchinson one of the big winners in this year's event. Martin and Keith Amor finished second and third, respectively, in both the Supersport TT and the Superstock TT.

Michael Dunlop was the winner of the Supersport TT Race 2, with Bruce Anstey and Cummins following him onto the podium, and Plater and Hutchinson rounding out the top five.

Northwest 200 wrap-up

Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix regulars were on the podium during the 2009 North West 200, with Briton Steve Plater winning two of the five races on May 16 at the popular event in Northern Ireland.

Plater won both the Superbike and the Supersport races, followed home by New Zealander Bruce Anstey in each.

2008 Macau Grand Prix third-place finisher John McGuinness, also put in an excellent showing at the North West 200 with a podium, a fourth and a sixth-place finish. Plenty of other Macau Grand Prix regulars had good outings, including six-time winner Michael Rutter, Ian Hutchinson, Chris Palmer, James McBride, Ryan Farquhar, Ian Lougher, Rico Penzkofer, Les Shand and Conor Cummins.

Plater scores at Le Mans

Steve Plater finished second in the Le Mans 24 Hours World Endurance race in April along with Honda France teammates Sebastien Charpentier and Matthieu Lagrive. The trio started at the head of the field after posting the fastest time in qualifying.

However, after just 11 laps, Lagrive crashed and the bike had to be brought back to the garage. They returned to the track in 43rd position and a few hours later had moved up into 10th. Adversity struck again when the heavens opened but the team successfully played catch-up for the second time and managed to reach the podium at the end of a grueling 24 hours.

Fernandes returns to World Endurance Championship

Macau rider Joao Fernandes, who finished third in the Supersport category during the 2008 Macau Grand Prix, has returned to the World Endurance Championship after two years away from competition at a world championship level.

-credit: macu gp

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