The survivor

66th Macau Grand Prix Special | Co-ordinated by Sérgio Fonseca
Motorcycle Grand Prix – 53rd Edition

The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is considered one of the most dangerous motorbike races in world, and righteously so. High risks are around the corner and all actors know that very well. It makes one wonder why riders from all over the world keep coming to Circuito da Guia. Twenty-some riders put their lives at risk for a prize money of HKD 32,000 – that is how much the race winner gets – and an enormous nice-looking trophy. But there is much more than that, as nothing really compares to the buzz of racing at 200kph between walls.

Spanish rider Raül Torras Martinez is the perfect example of how addicting this race is. In 2018, the Catalunya-native had his Macau Grand Prix début with a bang. Unfortunately, he did it in the worst possible way. Torras, whose BMW S1000RR race bike went into flames, ended his first Macau race weekend by being transported to the Centro Hospitalar Conde São Januário with a serious head injury (sub-arachnoid hemorrhage and frontal scalp hematoma) and a broken collar bone after running wild at the Mandarin Oriental Bend during the free practice. Luckily, he recovered in full, and he is back…

“Last year’s accident was my mistake. I think that was a ‘small’ mistake. I rubbed the inside wall, and that made me get out of the line and go against the outside wall. It happened in the worst possible corner, the fastest one. Fortunately, the accident wasn’t as bad as it looked like”, he said. 

His first experience of Macau was short, but like many other riders he got the “Macau virus”. This year, he is entering the competition with his own bike, a Kawasaki ZX-10RR, under the name of his own team, the Torras Racing Team. “I’m really happy to be back. I am going to enjoy again one of the biggest and most famous motorsports events of the world. I want to challenge myself. The Guia Circuit is a big challenge for any rider”, he explains.

Torras’s first appearance in the world of road racing was in the 2016 Manx Grand Prix, where he placed 6th in the Newcomers A race and 23rd in the Senior MGP. This saw Torras take the step up to the TT the following year, making him the first Spaniard to race at the TT since Antonio Maeso in 2013. A very consistent year at the 2018 Isle of Man TT saw Torras complete every race he competed in. The invitation to take part in the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix came natural. Despite everything he went through, the 43-year-old rider from Girona loved the experience and didn’t get scared of the place.

“I think that the biggest difference between the Macau Grand Prix and the other road races is that the GP is more ‘street racing’ than a ‘road racing’. You are always in between walls, and have a big ‘tunnel effect’”, he explains. Is Circuito da Guia more dangerous than those other TT world famous racetracks? “Motorsport is dangerous, no matter if you ride a motorbike or drive a car. The Macau Grand Prix is not more dangerous than other road races like the TT, NW200, Ulster GP, etc. We race close to the walls there too. You can crash at a high speed without injuries, and you can crash at a low speed and have lots of injuries, or worse… Who knows what happens before crashing?”

The 2012, 24-hour SBK endurance race of Catalunya winner is taking a different approach to this year’s race. The lesson was learnt. The Guia Circuit deserves a great deal of respect. “Last year I took it easy but a small mistake ended up in a disaster. This year I will take it even easier. I want to build up, lap by lap. No rush. My goal is to learn the track and the lines properly to be qualified for the race and finish the GP. I also want to enjoy the whole event, of course”, he declares. “I’ve got to say, after all that happened, I am very thankful to the Macau Grand Prix organisation for their support, confidence and for inviting me again this year!”.

But the Macau Grand Prix is not just a race. The environment of the event in the city where East meets West is special. “I enjoyed my first visit to Macau. However, this time I wish to visit the places that last year I didn’t have time to go to. I want to visit the ‘old city’, discover the traditions, get to know Macau’s history and meet the local people”.

He feels pity that in this race, compared to the TT races, there is only one chance to meet Grand Prix’s two-wheel fans, and that is when they turn up to see the motorcycles that the world’s best road racers will drive between the region’s steel Armco barriers on Saturday before the week of the event at the Tap Seac Square. The paddock is currently fully packed and doesn’t allow for a warmer contact with the fans.

“We are not close enough to the fans like in other TT races. We just get in touch with them during the Square’s race presentation. I feel sorry for the fans, but we all must understand that the whole Macau GP is a massive event. For safety reasons and to let teams work properly and the riders be focused, for the attendance controls, and for the good development of the event, the paddock access must be controlled as it is. All the fans must come to the GP presentation. It is a great pleasure for the riders to welcome them there. I am always available for an autograph, photos, selfies, catch up…just come and say hello!”.

There is a lot more in the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix than Road Racing superstars like Hickman, Rutter or Jessopp. Amateur racers like Raul, who is a cop in Catalunya on a regular day, and their passion for the event make this race so special and explain a bit why every year we see them fearlessly take on the daunting streets of Macau.