Thrilling finish as Daniel Ticktum wins Macau Grand Prix after top two crash at final corner
Red Bull Junior driver scores one of the most amazing victories ever seen at the race after he takes advantages of his rivals’ misfortunes to steal victory
Sometimes you make your own luck as Daniel Ticktum can attest after snatching a sensational victory, almost from nowhere, in Sunday’s Suncity Group Formula Three Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 World Cup
The British 18-year-old had said on Saturday he’d thought he had the fastest car in the field, despite qualifying eighth on the grid in his Motopark with VEB Volkswagen. And for much of the race Ticktum was tucked in behind the leading pack, waiting to prove that very point.
Then there was a sensational move outside Lisboa on lap 14 as Ticktum passed both Maximilian Gunther (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema) and Lando Norris (Carlin) to move into third in behind leaders Sergio Sette Camara (Motopark with VEB) and Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin) with the last lap looming.
That audacious overtake – the stuff of which legends are made in these parts – sent a murmur through the crowd that turned into a roar across the final lap when, incredibly, the leading pair both crashed into the barriers turning for the flag.
Ticktum was there on their tails – and he was home.
“There’s no way to describe what it was like coming over the line,” said Ticktum.
Watch: Incredible finish at the 2017 Macau Grand Prix
“It was an incredible race. I’d said all week that we had the fastest car so I just needed to a chance to prove it. I made the move at Lisboa and then there was the crash at the final corner. Amazing. I knew I was going to have to do something pretty special to win from my position on the grid.”
It’s been some wild ride for the London-born Ticktum over the past three years. He was banned from the sport for 12 months for dangerous driving in 2015 and then made his comeback to the track at Macau last year, retiring from the race with mechanical troubles after seven laps. In all, the teenager has only three times competed across a Formula Three weekend.
The Red Bull Junior Team racer has always shown an abundance of talent, and grace – as shown on Sunday when he stopped the post-race press conference from dispersing, just to send out thanks to “everyone who has every supported me.”
“Sometimes you just have to keep calm and take the opportunities when they come and that’s what I did,” said Ticktum. “There wasn’t many really – there was one. I’d been unlucky until then so I was due. It all came off pretty nicely.”
At the finish it was English 17-year-old Norris, recently crowned European Formula Three champion, who was tucked in behind Ticktum and stole home for third, while the podium was filled by Ralf Aron (Van Amersfoort Racing), the 19-year-old Estonian who had started back on 13th on the grid.
A gracious Norris summed up the sentiment in the room – and across Macau. “I’m a bit disappointed because Macau is a race that everybody wants to win,” he said. “But congratulations to Dan. He did a great job.”
There were worries about the weather all day. And the 6.30am minute’s silence in memory of British rider Daniel Hegarty - who died on Saturday after a crash in the motorcycle Grand Prix – kept thoughts focused of just how dangerous motorsports can be.
But the pouring rain that had greeted early risers had cleared by the time the main event took off, and while things sometimes got a bit messy, the action was as thrilling all day as it was thankfully safe.
In the support races earlier it was time for a little local knowledge to come to the fore as two men who long ago fell for Macau’s many charms topped the podium once again.
First we had “Mr Macau” Edoardo Mortara (Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy) making it four wins in the SJM Macau GT Cup – FIA GT World Cup – to go with his two Formula Three crowns. The Italian survived the 16-car pile-up in Saturday qualifying unscathed and took his place at the front of a truncated 14-car field for the main event.
Pressure was applied late by Robin Frijns (Audi Sport Team WRT) – on debut in Macau - but it’s not wise to give Mortara any advantage on what’s almost a home track now and he kept his cool to the line.
“It’s satisfying,” said Mortara. “It wasn’t easy. I needed a bit of luck yesterday but we kept the car in front. Sometimes here it pays not to push the car when you don’t need to.”
And if you’re impressed by Mortara’s record, how about this Rob Huff character?
Out there in the late-morning Suncity Group Macau Guia Race – FIA WTCC he, too, started from pole – and again it was pretty much all over the moment it began.
The Munnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysee driver scored his ninth victory in the race, edging the Englishman ahead of compatriot and motorcycling great Michael Rutter (eight wins) for the all-time record in Macau.
Horses for courses, punters in the world’s gambling capital might say.
“I think the hardest race I have ever driven is today,” said Huff, in a nod to the early rain. “To make it the most wins ever is very special. We’re going to have a hell of a party tonight.”