MOTORsport: Danny Watts raced his GR Asia-sponsored McLaren MP4-12C GT3 to third place in Macau on Sunday in the GT race that annually supports the Macau Grand Prix event, writes James Beckett.
The Thornborough racer, a regular visitor to the Macau race meeting, had the pleasure of becoming the first driver to race one of the new McLaren supercars in Asia. The Gulf Oil-liveried McLaren was the talk of the paddock and the United Autosport car ran without trouble throughout the entire race weekend.
As Watts put the McLaren through its paces on track during practice and qualifying, it proved to be as good as it looked around the tight and twisty narrow street circuit, taking a top three place in each session.
With an over-subscribed entry and 30 cars on the packed grid, Watts found traffic heavy on the 3.8-mile track.
At the start of the Star River - Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup race, Watts slotted into third place behind Edoardo Mortara and Japan’s Keita Sawa.
The trio pulled way ahead of the field until the race was abruptly halted on the third lap after a massive four-car accident further down the order at the Mandarin corner.
The race was restarted after a lengthy delay and Watts found himself in second position although in the closing stages he slipped to third to end his tenth visit to Macau with a successful podium result.
Watts said: “I’m very happy with third for the first time here with the McLaren. We’ve learned a huge amount this weekend, developed it and moved it forward throughout the whole four days, so to get a podium on its début is just fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
He added: “Every year the standard gets higher and higher here at Macau, the drivers turn up in better cars all the time, and it’s fantastic for the category that twice Macau Formula 3 winner and works DTM driver, Edoardo Montara, turns up in his Audi. You have to be on your toes, and I think collectively as a team, we did a great job all weekend.”
Richard Dean, co-owner of the United Autosports team, said, “It’s a shame the race was in two halves with a big accident, but thankfully everybody was okay. This McLaren development car was delivered to us on the day it flew to Asia, so we had very little time to get to know it. The fact it came here and ran trouble free is a tribute to McLaren GT and I’m really excited United Autosports have achieved a first podium with the car, which really bodes well for the future. There is so much potential in the car; I can’t wait to get my hands on the new definitive 2012 customer version!”
>>Buckingham’s Hitech Racing scored a fine fifth place finish in last weekend’s Macau Grand Prix - the jewel in the crown of the Formula 3 season.
The team’s Dutch racer, Hannes van Asseldonk, drove a controlled race to bring his Dallara home in fifth in an event that has a huge reputation for finding future Grand Prix stars.
At the head of the field Spain’s Daniel Juncadella was triumphant in a race that saw safety car periods due to a number of incidents - notably one involving British F3 race winner Kevin Magnussen. As the field raced towards the chequered flag, Juncadella was narrowly ahead of British F3 International Series racer, Felipe Nasr, who took second position. Japanese driver Yuhi Sekiguchi was third.