- “Danny Boy” hoping it’s “lucky 13” in Macau this year
- Macau “veteran” Meins aiming for another top-10 result
- Ever-present Anglo-American team bid for fifth podium in a row
British duo Danny Watts and Richard Meins race a pair of McLaren MP4-12C sports cars in the GT Cup race at Macau on Sunday, 16 November, aiming to earn United Autosports a fifth consecutive podium.
Watts and Meins compete in the prestigious, world-famous annual “Grand Prix” meeting in Asia for the 13th and 14th times respectively while United Autosports contests the GT Cup race for the fifth successive year since the formation of the Anglo-American team.
Watts has not placed lower than third since United Autosports’ debut in 2010 at the tight, twisting and narrow 3.85-mile “street” circuit – Danny coming through from eighth to second place in last year’s race – finishing just 1.504secs behind the winning car after 12 hard-fought laps.
Meins, meanwhile, made his Macau debut in 2000 – two years before Watts – and comes into this year’s race on the back of a personal best sixth-place GT race finish last year.
The bumper 36-car invitational entry includes 10 of the world’s leading sports car marques. The Macau GT Cup has become renowned for bringing leading international drivers together with the cream of Asia Pacific’s sports car specialists.
This weekend (8-9 Nov), United’s two McLarens are on display in the centre of Macau with Watts meeting local fans. During race week the team will be host to around 100 guests who will have made the ferry crossing over from nearby Hong Kong. This year, the team has guests from Singapore, Canada and Mainland China as well as Britain.
Both McLarens will again be sponsored by Gulf Oil Marine and the Noble Group. Gulf Oil Marine are the marine lubricants division of Gulf Oil, supplying lubricants to thousands of ships around the world, the biggest of which have engines with more horsepower than the entire GT grid combined. Gulf is of course also one of the most famous brands in motor racing and the cars are always amongst the most striking in the field.
Noble Group, a leading commodity and supply chain manager, ranked number 76 in the Fortune 500, is headquartered in Hong Kong but operates globally and has been sponsoring cars in Macau for well over a decade, their first win coming with Danny Watts in a Formula Asia race back in 2002.
A 30-minute practice session is staged on Thursday (1205-1235) with qualifying the following day (1310-1340). The 12-lap race is scheduled to begin at 0900 on Sunday.
#23 Gulf Marine Lubricants / Noble Group – McLaren MP4-12C
Danny Watts (GB)
Age: 34. Lives: Thornborough nr Buckingham, Bucks, GB:
Macau History – 2002: 1st Formula Asia 2000; 2003: 10th F3 Grand Prix; 2004: 12th F3 GP; 2005: Retired F3 GP; 2006: 1st Porsche Carrera Cup Asia; 2007: 5th Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (finished 1st on road but given 25secs penalty for yellow flag infringement); 2008: 2nd Macau GT Cup; 2009: 3rd Macau GT Cup; 2010 3rd Macau GT Cup (Audi R8 LMS); 2011 3rd Macau GT Cup (McLaren MP4-12C); 2012 3rd Macau GT Cup (McLaren MP4-12C); 2013 2nd Macau GT Cup (McLaren MP4-12C).
“Having finished on the podium in the last four years, my aim as always, is to try and win. I’ve certainly got the car and team to achieve that so I’ll be putting a huge effort in to attempting to achieve that.
“Every year the bar is raised in terms of top quality GT drivers and teams. The team and I will need to maximise everything to better last year’s result but we’re all looking forward to the challenge.
“This is my 13th consecutive year at Macau and apart from the Le Mans 24 Hours, is the one race I cannot wait for. From a driver’s perspective, it is one of the world’s most challenging circuits. Any mistake is heavily punished but when you get the lap right, it’s very rewarding. You need every ounce of concentration and focus, along with being accurate precise and brave.”
#25 Gulf Marine Lubricants / Noble Group – McLaren MP4-12C
Richard Meins (GB)
Age: 59. Born: Beckenham, GB. Lives: Hong Kong & Chiddingfold, Surrey, GB:
Macau History – 2000: Retired Guia Race (Ford Focus); 2001: Retired Guia Race (Ford Focus); 2002: 12th Guia Race (Ford Focus); 2003: 6th Guia Race (Ford Focus); 2004: Retired Guia Race (Honda Integra); 2005: 2nd (Class B) Porsche Carrera Cup Asia; 2007: 1st (Class B) Porsche Carrera Cup Asia; 2008: 8th Macau GT Cup; 2009: 11th Macau GT Cup; 2010: Retired Macau GT Cup (Audi R8 LMS); 2011: 7th Macau GT Cup (Audi R8 LMS); 2012: 11th Macau GT Cup (McLaren MP4-12C); 2013: 6th Macau GT Cup (McLaren MP4-12C).
“The Macau Grand Prix meeting has always had a great atmosphere – it’s the end of the year, it’s a track drivers love and the whole buzz of such a vibrant Asian city gives it an amazing feel.
“In just seven years, the Macau GT Cup has become a hugely popular event amongst GT drivers, helped in part by the strong growth in GT racing in Asia, but also by the increased presence of top teams and drivers. Drivers, who have moved on from Formula 3, see it as a great chance to return to Macau, whilst the big teams and manufacturers get a chance to showcase their cars on a great track, right on the doorstep of the world’s fastest growing car market, China.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“Macau is such a unique venue and in some respects, makes Monaco for example look like a Disney ride. It’s extremely fast featuring a long straight, which is unusual for a street circuit, has an incredibly tight hairpin, is mainly very narrow, features massive elevation changes and the track itself is very long for a street course. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world.
“A driver’s qualifying position will influence the race result on most occasions although last year Danny showed that it’s not imperative to start from the front two rows to challenge for a race victory when he came through from eighth and almost won. I believe [Macau] experience is the important element and in Danny and Richard, they can boast almost 30 race starts between them. I first went to Macau in 1994. I’d finished second in the Japanese F3 Championship so got an invite by the organisers. Unfortunately I crashed and dislocated my thumb so it also punishes mistakes!”