The Guia Circuit at Macau Grand Prix
The 3.8-mile Guia circuit at Macau is a street circuit with a combination of fast straights and tight corners. Essentially a track of two halves, Macau is made up of wide open fast straights, before turning right at Lisboa Corner where it is followed by a highly technical and narrow sequence of bends and corners that all interlink to each other. It is the only circuit that motorbikes race on that is entirely lined by Armco barrier and, from the Lisboa Corner to Melco Hairpin, is likened by many to ‘threading the eye of the needle’.
In some places, the circuit is only seven metres wide but perhaps its most unique feature is that it has a variation in altitude of some 30 metres. It is also highly unique in the fact that unlike other regular racing tracks in the world, the layout hasn’t been modified since its first event in 1954. The only changes have come in the relocation of the pits and paddock complex to its present location since 1993 whilst the scenery has also changed dramatically as more and more buildings, particularly casinos (Macau is described as the Las Vegas of the East), have been built thus ensuring a thriving economy.
The Lisboa Bend is the most famous spot of excitement as it offers the only possible overtaking opportunity at the end of the main straight, especially on the opening lap. After that it is essentially follow my leader through the hills until the Melco Hairpin where other late braking attempts can be made although the tightness of this corner – a 90-degree right turn – makes this precarious.
For motorbikes, the most fearsome corner is the 170mph Mandarin corner, the first right hander after the start and finish. Named after the hotel adjacent to the corner, with no run-off and just solid Armco barrier on the outside it’s not for the feint hearted.
Over the years, the corners have become known around the world and after turning right at Lisboa, riders climb up San Francisco before negotiating the Maternity Bend and on through the Solitude Esses. With the course constantly twisting and turning, one way and then the next, only once the riders reach the Melco Hairpin can they relax a little. Once round Melco, the course widens and opens up significantly as they take the right handers of Dona Maria, Fisherman’s and R Bend before flashing back across the start and finish.
Best places to watch
There are two major grandstands around the circuit for spectators to watch live racing – the main grandstand along the pit straight and the other one at the Lisboa Bend. Aside from that, spectator viewing is incredibly limited although, of course, locals know where to find all the little nooks and crannies.
The current lap record, set in 2010, is held by Stuart Easton who lapped at 2m23.616s, 95.32mph.