Saturday, 17 November 2012

Two deaths in two days rock Macau Grand Prix


A HONG KONG racing driver died after his touring car slammed into a barrier and burst into flames Friday in the second death in two days to rock the iconic Macau Grand Prix.

Organisers gave no details about the accident which killed Phillip Yau, 40, but footage screened on television showed his Chevrolet Cruze crashing at high speed and catching fire before rolling to a halt.

Yau was cut from the wreckage but he died 40 minutes later in hospital. The tragedy comes after Portuguese motorbike racer Luis Carreira was killed in one of two serious accidents at the Chinese territory’s street circuit on Thursday.

Officials said they would not cancel the weekend’s racing and defended their safety record. The multi-race event also suffered fatalities in 1994 and 2005, and a tourist was killed in 2000 when a car left the track.

“Unfortunately it is not very pleasant to have two accidents in two days,” Macau Grand Prix committee coordinator Joao Manuel Costa Antunes told a press conference.

“But every track has challenges and the track of Macau as a street circuit presents challenges that all the drivers have the opportunity to learn.

“I don’t think there is any question about the track,” he said, adding that it has existed for 60 years and is approved every year by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world governing body for motorsport.

“We don’t consider suspending any races,” he said.

Hong Kong media said Yau, who was driving a qualifying session for the CTM Macau Touring Car Cup, lost control of his high-powered car and hit the barrier at more than 200 kilometres (124 miles) an hour.

Organisers said Yau was an experienced Macau competitor who had won two races at the street track in the Chinese gambling haven. Carreira was a seven-time entrant in the bike race and also a veteran of the tough Isle of Man TT event.

The Macau Grand Prix, now in its 59th year, features four days of races for both professionals and amateurs, including the touring car cup, the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix and the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix.

Macau, the world’s only international street circuit meeting with both four- and two-wheeled races on the same programme, has helped launch the careers of a host of Formula One champions including Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.

With its narrow roads, long straights, hairpin bends and few escape routes, the event, now in its 59th year, prevents unique challenges, but organisers insisted there was nothing different about this year’s circuit.

Yau was competing for Look Fong Racing Team in the CTM Macau Touring Car Cup, an event for amateurs and semi-pros.

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