Macau GP officials defend safety after second death

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:29pm

Phillip Yau Wing-choi became the second racer in two days to die at the Macau Grand Prix yesterday, but organisers denied there was a safety issue and insisted the event would continue.

Yau, 40, crashed his Chevrolet Cruze into a barrier during the Macau Touring Car Cup. After extinguishing the resulting fire, rescuers took six minutes to cut Yau from the wreckage. He was rushed to hospital but died less than half an hour later.

On Thursday, Portuguese motorbike rider Luis Carreira crashed and died from his injuries.

Joao Manuel Costa Antunes, co-ordinator of the Macau Grand Prix committee, said there was no fault with the circuit.

"We will not consider suspending any races for this event. I don't think there is any question about the track. The track of Macau has existed…for 60 years and we keep it exactly as it is, approved every year by delegates of the FIA [Federation Internationale de l'Automobile] who approve and issue the licence.

"It is not pleasant to have two accidents in two days. [But] every track has challenges and the Macau track as a street circuit presents challenges all the drivers have the opportunity to learn."

Yau, driving for the Look Fong Racing Team, was a regular competitor at Macau.

Organisers defended taking six minutes to free Yau. They said it was within the international racing guidelines of 10 minutes and added that Yau's driving of the left-hand-drive vehicle had complicated his freeing. The officials said Yau's equipment had passed all the requisite checks before the race.

Costa Antunes said: "He is quite an experienced driver and it is just an unfortunate accident. In all motorsports there is a challenge - when the teams and drivers start practising this sport they know the challenges."

Yau told a television station a day before the race he was testing himself by participating. "I won the CTM Cup in the 52nd Grand Prix. But now many competitors use stock cars in the race, so I bought a stock car, and hope to test my standing," he said. "I practised with the car, trying out some settings. I hope to tune the settings to suit a road race."

Organisers said the Macau government would cover all costs relating to the death. The Macau Grand Prix had contacted his family and team members to extend its condolences.