WTCC Macau: They said what?

Nicky Catsburg

– Catsburg, Chilton, Coronel, Ehrlacher, Guerrieri, Huff and Michelisz on Guia Race

– World championship drivers in awe of hugely challenging street track

– Huff: “There aren’t any circuits as unforgiving as Macau »


Nicky Catsburg (#63 Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 WTCC)
« Mandarin is so fast, maybe flat out and really exciting »
« It was actually quite scary going to Macau for the first time last year even though you’re never really scared as a driver. But Macau is something special, especially Mandarin, the second corner. It’s so fast, maybe a short lift but maybe flat out and really exciting. At Macau you just have to be close to the walls and be comfortable being close to the walls. I don’t feel I really know Macau because we had a lot of red flags last year but maybe I have an advantage over my Polestar Cyan Racing team-mates Thed Björk and Néstor Girolami, who have never been there. I’m not the biggest fan of street circuits but I like the challenge of Macau. People compare Macau to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. It’s totally different with the walls but, like the Nordschleife, Macau punishes you when you push too much. »

Tom Chilton (#3 Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
« It’s risky and it’s down to luck but I really enjoy racing at Macau »
« Macau is one of the hardest race tracks in the world, 100 per cent. I really enjoy racing there but it’s always quite risky. Somebody can have a big crash and if they can’t get the yellow flags out in time you can be collected. I’ve seen cars stacked on top of each other and if you can’t fix your car there will be no race in Qatar for you so a lot of it is down to luck. I would say I know Macau well now but I have never managed to get a podium there. I’ve had fifths and things like but I’ve never had a podium so I’m itching for a podium badly and will be trying to get my first one this year. I’ve had podiums at other street tracks, like Porto and Vila Real, which are hard places to go. »

Tom Coronel (#9 ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
« It’s a special vibe but Macau is not a holiday, it’s stressful »
« If you ask a driver what would be the coolest race track on planet earth the Nordschleife and Macau are in big competition. Macau is a circuit where you need to build your confidence and I’m always a bit over-confident. I was leading the Formula 3 race once when I crashed at Mandarin because I was looking in my mirrors. And once you have a little scratch your confidence is cracked. This is why I tell the young guys to build up your speed and get in the flow of Macau, which is like Monaco with the glamour, the casinos and all the impressive hotels. It’s special vibe but it’s not a holiday because you’re at work although you need a little party on the Sunday night because after stress you need relaxation and Macau is one of those stressful places. I was very happy when Macau was back on the calendar because it belongs to the WTCC and I’ve always been quick there. The hardest corner for me has always been Mandarin because you are always holding your breath. I did it twice flat with a WTCC car, one time it worked out with new tyres and the second time I tried it I crashed my car. But it was flat. You have the posts on the left side and the car starts to move, always once, twice, you turn in but the wobble is a little bit different and if you’re not on the right moment you just miss the apex and you have a big shunt. It’s one of those big corners that makes it cool for a race car driver but also the most challenging. »

Yann Ehrlacher (#68 RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC)
« Macau is one step further in everything »
« Vila Real was already quite tough but they say Macau is one step further in everything. My mother [Cathy Muller] raced there in F3 and told me it’s a mythical place and my uncle [Yvan Muller] raced there many times in the WTCC and I remember waking up at 4am to watch on TV when he was fighting for the world championship. Everybody knows about Macau so it will be really nice to take part. Maybe I can have a taxi ride with Yvan to look at the walls, the lines, the bumps. I understand some of the corners are a bit blind so it’s all about being confident with the car and learning the track as quickly as possible. Sorry for the expression but you really need to bring your balls with you because it’s a big challenge for a rookie driver and it’s going to be interesting. I will learn a lot. »

Esteban Guerrieri (#86 Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Honda Civic WTCC)
« You’ve got to give everything and even more »
« I raced there in 2007 in Formula 3. Before I went to the Nürburgring Nordschleife this year I always said Macau was the most intense single lap for concentration. The Nürburgring Nordschleife is double that but at Macau you have to go between walls on full power at 100 per cent, you give everything and even more to get the maximum out of the car. I like street courses and Macau is top of the street courses. You never know where is the limit or when you are close to the limit. You don’t realise you’ve gone too much until you hit the wall. In a normal race track you go off the track and you realised you’ve gone too far. At Macau you never realise how hard you are pushing. When I went there in 2007 I was top-five in first qualifying but my second qualifying was not good, P12 or P13 or something. Then I was a victim of Mandarin corner at the start and it was not a good weekend. But I enjoyed it. »

Rob Huff (#12 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
« There aren’t any circuits as unforgiving as Macau »
« I’m massively excited to be going back, probably much more than anyone else. Macau has always been a magical place for me from the first moment I went there. I’ve always been quick and confident there but I don’t know the answer why. It’s always been a place that’s clicked with me. To have eight victories is something special and I want to build on that. I went there for the first time with no apprehension, no idea really. I hadn’t really heard of the place if I’m honest. The first year my good friend [and fellow WTCC racer] Tom Coronel helped me out. He’d been there many times before and we spent two hours from 2am on the Monday and Tuesday before the race going around in a taxi. Although you can’t do a full lap of Macau in a taxi it was a big help. For whatever reason we’ve got the lap record in a Lada Granta but don’t ask me how. We were quicker than José Mar