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Here are the highlights from day one of the 2023 Macau Grand Prix

It’s only the beginning of the 70th Macau Grand Prix and we’ve seen red flags, crashes and more. This is what to know about day one.

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It’s only the beginning of the 70th Macau Grand Prix and we’ve seen red flags, crashes and more. This is what to know about day one.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

The 70th Macau Grand Prix is back with a bang. Saturday, the opening day, saw five different practice and qualifying events which include the Macau Formula 4 (F4) race and the Greater Bay Area GT Cup. 

The race day kicked off at 7:45 am with the F4 practice session, where multiple red flags were raised. There were also several crashes before the day’s end (though luckily no serious injuries). In other words, the start of the 70th Macau Grand Prix was not short of drama. 

Here are four things you need to know about day 1.

New drivers struggled on the Guia Circuit

The tight bends of the 6.2-kilometre Guia Circuit are infamous. British racing driver Tom Chilton, who participated in the 2014 World Touring Car Championship, described the track as “Monaco on steroids.”

Saturday’s free practice sessions saw drivers each given 45 minutes to test their vehicles and get a feel for the course. Sessions were broken up by multiple yellow and red flags, however, suggesting that the Guia Circuit’s narrow twists and turns are going to be a daunting challenge in the days ahead. 

SJM Theodore PREMA Racing and British driver Freddie Slater didn’t seem to have too many problems though, coming first in the practice session with Norwegian Martinius Stenshorne in second place and Macao’s two-time Formula 4 Macau Grand Prix winner Charles Leong third.

[See more: With the countdown on for the Macau Grand Prix, here’s everything you need to know about the Guia Circuit]

SJM Theodore PREMA Racing are the team to watch

SJM Theodore PREMA Racing’s Arvid Lindblad at the Macau Grand Prix
SJM Theodore PREMA Racing’s Arvid Lindblad remains focused behind the wheel of his F4 drive

Four out of five racers in the top five at the Macau Formula 4 qualifiers were from SJM Theodore PREMA Racing and PREMA Racing. Talented British driver Arvid Lindblad will lead today’s qualifying race with his teammate Slater behind him and R-ace GP’s Hadrien David in third. The fourth and fifth drivers are SJM Theodore PREMA Racing’s Charles Leong and PREMA Racing’s Rashid Al Dhaheri

The PREMA is the one to watch this weekend. Lindblad took pole by just 0.549s off Slater, with the rest behind a second or less.

Theodore Racing has a long and rich history. Founded in 1970 by the late businessman and former race car driver Teddy Yip, it was the first and only Chinese-owned team to race in Formula 1. Ayrton Senna is one of the many big-name racers to have won for Theodore. Others who have driven for the team include Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and Alan Jones. 

[See more: Five female racers you’ll see at the 2023 Macau Grand Prix]

An ‘euphoric’ experience for the Bianca Bustamante

Bianca Bustamante at the 2023 Macau Grand Prix
A calm and composed Bianca Bustamante before the Macau Formula 4 qualifying race

BlackArts Racing have two first-time drivers at the 2023 Macau Grand Prix: Filipina Bianca Bustamante and Indian Jaden Pariat. 

Bustamante told Macao News about having “mixed feelings” when she first heard she was coming back to Macao, knowing of the challenges – but also appreciating the opportunity. The 18-year-old struggled today as she finished in 11th place in both the practice session and the qualifying, but described driving the Guia Circuit as an “euphoric” experience 

“The track is known to be a tricky one, but right now we are just going to try to learn and maximise everything we can,” Bustamante told Macao News. 

While Bustamante got a taste of Macao’s circuit, her teammate Pariat was out today after issues with his F4 car. The 16-year-old hopes his ride will be ready for tomorrow’s qualifying race.

Experience and learning are the two qualities BlackArts Racing team principal Bill O’Brien hopes to get from his two young and talented racers. “Our expectation is that they do well,” he says. This is Macao and it’s a much tougher place. But the important thing is for them to get the experience.”

[See more: These are the Macau Grand Prix races you shouldn’t miss]

Darryl O’Young is back like he never left

Hong Kong’s Darryl O’Young – a two-time Macau GT Cup winner – dominated practice and qualifying to take pole among the 17-man grid for the Greater Bay Area GT Cup (GT3). Chinese driver Ling Kang, who drove a Lamborghini, was just 1.386 seconds behind O’Young’s Mercedes AMG. 

However, the qualifying session ended three minutes early after Anderson Tanoto lost control of his Aston Martin at Fishermen’s Bend. Chinese driver Chris Chia, who was unaware of the situation ahead, ended up colliding with Tanoto’s vehicle which led to the end of the series.

Get ready for the Greater Bay Area GT Cup (GT3) race at 12:50 pm today, with a third title for O’Young looking like a real possibility.

 

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