De La Rosa puts pedal to the metal in Macau quest
By BRUCE MACDONALD
UP-AND-COMING Spaniard Pedro De La Rosa has established himself as a raging early favourite to run away with the Macau Formula Three Grand Prix in November after an unprecedented driving performance in Japan this season.
The Barcelona native has won an extraordinary seven out of seven rounds of the ultra-competitive Japanese F3 Championship with only one round to come at Sendai on October 8.
Not since Mika Hakkinen came to Macau in 1990 with eight wins in the British F3 series, a feat only achieved by the late and great Ayrton Senna, has any driver been so dominant.
De La Rosa is no stranger to Macau. He raced on the Guia street circuit in 1993, but failed to distinguish himself, crashing in the first leg after tangling with Gareth Reid and finishing seventh in the second leg.
But he has matured into a driver who has his eyes firmly fixed on bigger and better things.
'The F3 season hasn't even finished in Japan and I've already had a couple of offers to drive in the Japanese Formula 3000 series next season. The manufacturers love getting behind a successful driver. Success certainly breeds success in this country,' he said from Japan yesterday.
Still on a high after his record-breaking performance on the weekend which eclipsed German Michael Schumm's old mark, De La Rosa had bad news for his rivals in Macau.
'Nothing is really riding on my performance in Macau this year. I'm set for a contract next season so money and a sponsor won't be at the back of my mind when I get in the car.
'I'll be able to relax and focus on driving to the best of my ability without any unnecessary distractions,' he explained.
The combination of a Dallara chassis and a Toyota Toms powerplant has made all the difference this season. 'Due to some change in regulations Toms didn't have time to build their own chassis this season and the result has been greater straight line speed,' De la Rosa explained.
Even though his future looks secure, at least for next season, De La Rosa won't be backing off on the accelerator pedal in Macau, he knows that winning in Macau, the virtual World Championship of F3, opens influential doors in F1.
'I know the importance of Macau, but even if I did win and an offer in F1 came my way I would probably still do a season in the Japanese F3000 series.
'It's a big jump to F1 as many young drivers have discovered,' he added.
The former Spanish Formula Fiat, Formula Ford and British Formula Renault champion has the motor racing world at his feet, but his main mission for this season is clear when he said: 'I'm already thinking about Macau and setting right what I did wrong in 1993.'