Riders reflect on death of colleague at Macau GP
Less than 24 hours after the death of one of their friends and colleagues, it was back to business on a sombre day for motorcycle riders at the Macau Grand Prix yesterday.
Luis Carreira of Portugal died during qualifying on Thursday, while tragedy struck the event for a second day in a row with the death of Hong Kong touring car racer Phillip Yau Wing-choi yesterday.
It's a sad fact that death is all too common in motorcycle racing, especially in road events like Macau, but the remaining riders had to put sorrow aside and focus on qualifying for today's race.
Michael Rutter, who holds the record number of wins at Macau with seven, looked completely unaffected by the tragedy, on the bike if not off, as he rode his SMT Racing Honda to pole, topping both qualifying sessions yesterday.
He admitted it had been a difficult day for every rider. "Everyone was shocked by it, but you have to move on," said the 40-year-old, competing in his 18th Macau GP. "I think we all knew straight away really," he said, "it's one of those things that happens in racing. It's a tragic thing, but it happens on TT circuits, it can happen here in Macau and it just happens in our sport.
"He was doing something he wanted to do and we just have to get on with it.
"It's tragic and I just want to say all the best to his family. It's a terrible part of our sport."
Like many of the riders here, Carreira's death was not the first of a fellow competitor he has witnessed, but he did not feel the track had contributed in any way. Organisers have defended the circuit and their safety procedures in the 59th edition of the event and said two deaths in two days is just a tragic coincidence. "I've been in this situation before lots of times and in lots of different places," Rutter added. "The track's been real good, it's got a bit bumpier in certain sections, some bits are better, it changes slightly every year.
"With what's gone on we were glad to get it all over with and get back racing today.
"It's a long old day from half past five this morning with a lot of waiting around and I'll be glad to get to to bed tonight."
John McGuinness, another hugely experienced rider and a legend of the Isle of Man TT race, in which there have been 239 deaths since 1911, added his condolences. "It's been difficult losing one of our colleagues. It's one of those things in racing and our hearts go out to the family and friends of Luis Carreira," he said after taking second in qualifying.
Third on the grid will be 27-year-old Martin Jessop, who finished second in the race last year behind Rutter.
Rutter will be aiming to stretch his record to eight wins after breaking the record last year.