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Conway wins in Macau

NEWS STORY
19/11/2006

2006 British International Formula 3 Champion Mike Conway drove a superbly controlled race punctuated by a Safety Car period to claim the coveted 2006 Macau Grand Prix victory, on the way to an as-yet unconfirmed future in GP2.

A supreme beneficiary of luck, Conway moved up after grabbing a great start that catapulted him from seventh to fourth, and inherited the lead after 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries Champion Paul di Resta lost all front downforce locked in battle with Kamui Kobayashi and Marko Asmer as all three drove straight-on at Lisboa Corner on Lap 1.

After the Safety Car period, forced by the hand of di Resta who had then smashed at Fisherman's bend, Conway clipped the wall lightly near San Francisco Bend but went on to control the race back to second-placed man Richard Antinucci and brought the car home to a well-deserved victory. Conway was rightly pleased, "Yeah, I feel great. It's the result I wanted. We knew we had the pace and I knew what was needed, to put my head down. I knew what I had to do, especially what had happened in the past. I didn't want to push too hard, as I clipped the wall once, and after that I just kept it steady. I tried to keep away from the barriers, keep the times consistent and manage the time back to Hirate to bring the car home. A great result!"

2006 Japanese Formula 3 Champion and SpykerMF1 test driver Adrian Sutil drove an aggressive race to lock out the final podium position with a celebrated third. Sutil also took a great start and looked strong throughout the 15-lap feature race, benefiting immensely from the retirement of di Resta and 2007 WilliamsF1 test driver Kazuki Nakajima. Sutil confirmed that luck had its place, "Yeah, you need some luck always. Especially at this circuit, you need luck. I was unlucky the first few days - in qualifying I was only 14th and yesterday a great race to sixth. Today was a fantastic race to third. I've had a very good weekend and I was very happy to be on the podium on my last race here. Especially with this team, I love these guys. I had a great season with them, and I was Japanese Formula 3 Champion. I had a great performance here this weekend and I'm just very happy."

Whilst Conway and Sutil went off to celebrate their excellent performances, di Resta was understandably gutted with two incidents that marked his Macau race with disappointment. With the dream of a 2006 trifecta now in tatters, di Resta took solace in his early weekend performance and his timesheet topping performance in the morning's warm-up. Di Resta was forlorn, "It's my mistake, what can I do? I made a mistake. I locked a wheel. It's disappointing, because I got a good start. I just have to look to the future."

BMW-Sauber F1 test driver Sebastian Vettel had a mixed bag of results to leave Macau with. A weekend of below-expectation performance, featuring engine troubles and a Qualification Race retirement, was completed with a drive from the back of the grid to what would be sixth before crashing with Robert Streit at Lisboa Corner on the final lap. Put through the wars, Vettel did not lose his smile at the end of the race, "I had a very good race. I mean, apart from the very last lap, I would have been P6. On the last lap, I think we suffered from the engine problem that has affected us all weekend. Streit was coming at me from 200 metres away, at the end of the straight we were side by side. Racing is like this, he was trying to pass me and I didn't want him to pass. It was just a racing incident, so we get together. Unfortunately we didn't finish the race, but from the back of the grid to P6 is very good, so I'm happy."

Japan's hopes of a Macau Grand Prix winner were dashed on Sunday with a double retirement of the nation's top contenders. Kohei Hirate and Kazuki Nakajima were both running high in the early stages of the race, before heading into retirement and a disappointing end to the weekend's proceedings. Hirate befallen by brake pressure problems; Nakajima affected by low tyre temperatures that led him straight to the scene of the accident at Police Corner.

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