By Michael Butterworth
MACAO, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Swiss-Italian racing driver Edoardo Mortara has hailed the unique challenge that racing in Macao represents.
Once a year, several of the city's streets are closed to the public and transformed into the Guia Circuit, a fearsome 6.2km facility whose combination of long straights, tight corners and elevation change make it one of the world's most challenging racetracks.
The Guia Circuit plays host to several different categories of racing, including the GT World Cup and the Formula 3 Macao Grand Prix, with Mortara having taken ten wins at Guia across different series since 2007.
Mortara's trophy haul is a record for any driver in Macao to date, and has seen the Swiss-Italian dubbed "Mr Macao". What makes the Guia Circuit such a unique racing experience?
"It's a very complete racing track with a fast part, but also slow corners, medium and fast corners, and you have a lot of bumps," explained Mortara shortly before he finished second in the 2023 GT World Cup.
"Technically, it's also difficult for the engineers to try to set up the car, and for us drivers, obviously, it's very complicated. But we like it because we like the challenge.
"I believe my driving style suits the racetrack, and it's a place that I really enjoy competing [at].
"My first race weekend [in the 2007 F3 Macao Grand Prix] didn't really go so well, but I enjoyed it very much, and had the pleasure to come back pretty much every year until now. I still have great memories from [then]," added Mortara, whose victories in the 2009 and 2010 Macao Grands Prix saw him beat current Formula 1 racers Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.
Mortara's thoughts echo those of seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who told Xinhua at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that the Guia Circuit was one of his favorite tracks.
The Swiss-Italian's many successes at Macao have helped him become something of a celebrity in the region, and Mortara talked up the city's off-track experience.
"I do also like to go around [Macao]. It's a very interesting city. What is pretty impressive is that it is changing year after year. They are building so many things so quickly. It's interesting to track everything that is being done here," said Mortara, who quipped that his achievements on the racetrack had also extended to the city's famed roulette tables.
"I'm not gambling [now, but] I did five or six years ago. I tried my luck and I was actually pretty successful," he said.
The Macao Grand Prix has long been seen as an important step on the motor racing ladder for aspiring young drivers, with previous winners including Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, who would go on to amass ten F1 World Championship titles between them.
Of F1's current crop of drivers, Yuki Tsunoda, Logan Sargeant and Liam Lawson all took part in the 2019 Macao Grand Prix - the most recent edition of the race with a fully international entry list.