Travel 2007 – Macau, Day 5

Thursday, 15th November 2007 – Macau, Day 5

After a latish night on Wednesday it was a bit of a shock to have to get up early and haul ourselves out to the track. However, a bit of research with the map the day before had proven to us that we were about a 15 minute downhill walk from the Melco Hairpin, and we had photographers’ access passes. So Melco it was. It took a bit longer than it should have done because the actual streets don’t quite match the tourists map, so we ended up down a cul-de-sac and had to extricate ourselves and try again. However, we still go there with 10 minutes to spare and so I settled in to take as many photos as I wanted to. I have to say that of all the corners you can get to at Macau (and there aren’t that many) I especially like Melco. I like it when F3 cars are so close you could reach out and rap the drivers on their crash helmets as they go by. Of course it usually means some bright spark driver will wave when he should have both hands on the wheel, but I’d warned most of them in advance that a wave during anything apart from the slowing down lap would mean – at least – a sharp clip round the ear!

It reminds you you’re alive, and, as I think I mentioned to one of the Italian photographers, reminds you you’d like to stay that way too. I also love the way, despite the resurfacing of the track, you can still see clear air under the front wheels…

Anyway, we then headed back to the hotel, sorted ourselves out, and hauled the laptops down to the press office for the afternoon qualifying session (which I won’t go into here as the report is already posted elsewhere). Anyway, after qualifying (with Sam Bird throwing himself into the scenery for the second time that day), we legged it back up the hill to get changed and head out to the Macau Grand Prix Museum, where they were celebrating the 25th running of the Grand Prix as a Formula Three race. Because that first race was won by West Surrey Racing with Ayrton Senna driving, Dick Bennets was there, and Bruno Senna was the guest of honour.

We arrived slightly early, only to find Niall Breen wandering around looking lost. He made a bee-line for us, on the grounds that he knows us before wandering off to talk to Roberto Streit. This is what we know as the “Foreign Race Effect”. It works like this. Even a driver who has not spoken a word to you all season will suddenly decide he wants to talk to you when he finds himself looking for an even halfway familiar face in a strange and alien place. It can be quite funny. Certainly, that’s how we ended up having our ears endlessly bent by Ant Davidson in his F3 season. We’d struggled to get so much as a grunt out of him right until the moment he found himself racing in Pau at the International F3 race. After that, we couldn’t get him back in his box… It’s also how Mike Conway decided I was his friend… It seemed to be working with Walter Grubmuller this time, which was a bit worrying. James Jakes, Edoardo Mortara, Stephen Jelley (and his parents), Marko Asmer, Jonathan Kennard (and his parents) and Yelmer Buurman turned up too, and after a brief presentation, and photos of Bruno sitting his uncle’s car, a book on the 25 years of the race was handed out (with more copies on sale in the press office later), as were goodie bags containing specially made t-shirts. The books weighed a ton, and we were now once again stuck with extra excess baggage. This was going to need a trip to the post office if we weren’t going to struggle on the homeward journey…

Bruno beat a hasty retreat, as he was less than happy with his day (he’d had a poor qualifying and didn’t want to talk about it – additionally, he was getting tired of people sticking camera lenses in his face at every turn, and it was hard to blame him for that). As the champagne and canapes ran out, we left, making our way to the Clube Militar de Macau, our regular Thursday night venue, for an excellent dinner (cold minted pea soup, seafood rice) before retreating to the hotel and bed, though not before we’d retrieved our books from the cloakroom amidst jokes by the girls on the desk that they’d sold them on eBay.

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