Safety will be paramount, Macau Grand Prix chief insists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 4:05am

Safety will be top of the agenda as the Macau Grand Prix celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

"It is always our first priority," said Joao Antunes, who has been the MGP coordinator for the last 25 years, at a press conference yesterday. "I had a meeting with FIA safety inspectors in Paris this Monday where we provided them exactly all the drafts we want to implement this year and it was considered quite positive.

"For the Guia circuit, each year new measures are added in line with FIA safety regulations. As this year will mark a new era with the 60th anniversary, additional safety features, such as tall crash protection barriers and fences, will be implemented to ensure both drivers' and spectators' safety. We are also studying other measures."

Last year, two competitors died in crashes - Phillip Yau Wing-choi, a touring car driver from Hong Kong and Portuguese motorcycle rider Luis Filipe de Sousa Carreira.

Antunes defended the safety of the 6.2-kilometre circuit. "We cannot say the accidents happened because of the track or because of the safety of the track," he said. "The two accidents could happen either in Macau or anywhere in the world.

"We have more than 20 medical doctors along the circuit and the Macau Hospital is also on the track. Also, we have ambulances that arrive in less than 30 seconds in all the points when necessary."

To mark the diamond jubilee, an extended programme will take place over two weekends, November 9-10 and 14-17. A new race control tower will be built in time for the event as the first phase of a new grand prix building, replacing the existing one which was built 20 years ago.

"In the 20 years since, the stature of the grand prix has grown to such an extent the race programmes now include two FIA events, in addition to the motorcycle grand prix and a trio of international races," added Antunes.

Organisers said the budget for 2013 has been increased from 160 million patacas to 230 million, with an estimated revenue of 50-53 million patacas.