Monday, November 30, 2015   

'This was the one race he wanted'

John Carney

Monday, November 20, 2000

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

unforgettable day.

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.

Champagne flowed.

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

Andre's home.

"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

Grand Prix.

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