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Top Macau GP drive for young Aussie

Tom Howard

Thursday 19th June, 2014 - 1:11pm

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Mitch Gilbert behind the wheel of the Fortec Motorsport Dallara at Pau

Mitch Gilbert aboard the Fortec Motorsport Dallara at Pau

Australia’s rapidly rising open-wheel star Mitch Gilbert has secured a prized drive at this year’s time-honoured Macau GP with renowned British outfit Fortec Motorsport.

The British-based 19-year-old has been awarded the bonus drive at the renowned stand-alone street race for the squad which he competes for in the FIA European F3 Championship.

The Macau GP (November 13-16)  is one of the highlights on the motorsport calendar for aspiring single seater racers with the event providing a launching pad for many high profile Formula 1 careers.

Among those to have risen up from winning on the tough Macau battleground are Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and David Coulthard.

David Brabham, the accomplished sports racer and former F1 driver, is the only Australian to win at Macau (1989) since it switched to the F3 formula in 1983.

Young Gilbert made his debut at the Macau GP for Mucke Motorsport finishing 20th in 2012.

“It is such a special race,” Gilbert told Speedcafe.com.

“It feels like you are in Formula 1 because it is the main event and the headline act for all the fans.

“When you look at all the people who have won it and gone to star in world motorsport it is incredible. That is the special thing about.”

Over the years Fortec has established themselves as one of the giants of F3 racing regularly contending for top honours at Macau.

Last year Brazil’s Pipo Derani finished third for the team behind the extremely talented Alex Lynn and Red Bull Racing test driver Antonio Felix Da Costa.

Such pedigree has given Gilbert reason to believe he has all the tools at his disposal to perform on the big occasion.

“As far as I’m aware Fortec have always been really good around Macau,” said Gilbert, who is 13th in the FIA European F3 standings.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how we go as they have a really good understanding of the track.

“I know some of the prep the team do with its drivers is awesome so I cannot wait.”

While Gilbert has experienced the race before, he believes the circuit is one of the most difficult to master in world motorsport, courtesy of its tight and twisty nature, with limited testing available.

To boost Macau GP preparations, Gilbert said that the majority of the field will spend more hours in the simulator on this circuit compared to any other on the calendar.

“The brain is at full capacity when you drive the circuit,” added Gilbert.

“It is the only circuit where you really need to drive it as much as you can in the simulator.

“Most people will do about seven or eight days just working on learning that circuit in the simulator. Even on the simulator it is hard to get close

“You just have to not fear the walls and pretend it is a normal track. That is the hardest thing to get your head around.”

Gilbert heads to Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps this weekend for the fifth round of the FIA European F3 Championship.

 

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