IT will be a long time before a day of such contrasts will be seen at
a Macau Grand Prix again.
Yesterday's developments had all the hallmarks of a daytime soap
Tragedy, death, excitement and joy all occurred during an
For the most part, fans were unaware of the fatal accident that
occurred during practice for the Guia race. It was a shock to learn
someone had been killed, but in the best traditions of the race, the
show must go on.
And as in previous years, it was quite a spectacle.
Local fans were in good spirit as an Asian victory looked assured.
But the shock crashes of India's Narain Karthikeyan and Takuma Sato of
Japan looked to have dashed all hopes until Macau's own Andre Couto
came from nowhere and saved the day.
Couto had to withstand a nerve-jangling game of cat-and-mouse with
Italy's Paulo Montin before finally prevailing. But when he did, how
the Macanese celebrated.
The fans went mad; grown men were reduced to tears.
Couto mounted the podium and stood proudly beneath the Macau flag as
the National Anthem was played, 11 months to the day the former
Portuguese enclave was handed back to the mainland.
It was a surreal experience for many but for Couto's father, Carlos,
it was the proudest moment of his life.
"This was the one race Andre always wanted to win," he said.
"He was born in Lisbon but we moved back to Macau when he was four.
"My wife Isabel and I have now lived in Macau for many years. Isabel
was born here and all her family is from here. This will always be
"He speaks fluent Cantonese like most Portuguese people living here.
He is a Macau citizen; it is what he wanted.
"We've lived here happily for many years. Today is a special day for
everyone in Macau."
In this particular instance, "one country-two systems" seems to have
worked in the most peculiar way.
Blue-eyed with blond hair, Couto may look about as Asian as Steve
McQueen but it hardly mattered: it may take a long time before the
National Anthem is played again for the winner of the Macau Formula 3
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