Pole sitter Da Costa singing in the rain

Portuguese heads the grid for today's F3 race, but rain postpones motorcycle showdown

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2012, 3:22am

Antonio Felix da Costa took pole for today's Macau Grand Prix as riders in the motorcycle race were left frustrated after rain forced the event to be postponed until today.

Reigning champion Michael Rutter put his hand up on the first lap at the top of San Francisco Hill to signal the track was unsafe and as the drizzle got heavier it was confirmed the race would not go ahead.

There were no issues earlier in the Formula 3 qualifying race, and Carlin's Portuguese driver Da Costa led from Lisboa Bend on the first lap to the end of the race as he attempts to win Macau at the third attempt.

He finished the 10-lap race 1.559 seconds ahead of Swede Felix Rosenqvist (Mucke) with England's Alex Lynn (Fortec) third having started from pole. Carlos Sainz Jnr (Carlin) was fourth, with last year's winner Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam) and Harry Tincknell (Fortec) making up today's third row.

Rosenqvist, 21, is also on his third visit to Macau and in form, having won four of his last six races to finish third in the European Formula 3 Championship following a poor start to the year.

He surged into the lead from fourth on the grid and though Da Costa slipstreamed past him at Lisboa, Rosenqvist was content to settle for second.

"You have to look if the juice is worth squeezing," he said. "If I had got past him it doesn't really give me anything extra for tomorrow, so I don't think it was worth taking risks and maybe crashing.

"The last couple of races have been really good especially this weekend in Macau. It feels like my weekend.

"We got out of trouble this year when we weren't doing well at the start of the year and I think that gave me a lesson in staying strong when times are bad and made me a lot stronger."

Isle of Man TT veteran and 2001 Macau winner John McGuinness was ruing the loss of his post-race beer, but admitted postponement was the right decision, especially after the death of Luis Carreira on Thursday.

"We're a long way from home, we always like to get the race done on a Saturday - and us Brits like to get to the pub," he said. "It's been a nerve-wracking few days and we haven't had the greatest Macau with the tragedy, so it's just frustrating."

Rutter, the record holder at Macau with seven wins, had no doubt he made the right call. "It was definitely the right decision, it's just a shame. I've been coming here about 20 years and I've only had two cancelled races and the last one was last year so that's two in a row.

"It's been a frustrating week, but at the end of the day we can race [today]."

Organisers and riders were understandably cautious, given Carreira's death. Minute's silences for him and Hong Kong driver Phillip Yau Wing-choi, who died in a crash on Friday, were held yesterday. McGuinness added: "People think we're all on holiday and it's not any pressure but we're riding really hard and running slick tyres and it only takes a couple of wet patches and we're crashing. Elsewhere you can go off the track and on the gravel and come back but you can't do that here.

"It only takes a few sprinkles of rain and we're in trouble and nobody wanted to be out there in those conditions.

"It would have been nice to get the job done tonight and get the pressure off our shoulders, we could have enjoyed some partying tonight, but we'll have to do it tomorrow instead."

Elsewhere, Edoardo Mortara took pole for today's City of Dreams GT Cup as he goes for four wins in a row at Macau. He won the GT Cup last year and is a two-time Macau F3 race winner.