November 16, 2012

HONG KONG (AP) -- A touring car driver was killed in a crash during qualifying at the Macau Grand Prix on Friday, one day after a motorcyclist died in an accident on the same track.

Race organizers said Hong Kong driver Phillip Yau Wing-choi crashed on the Mandarin Bend at the Guia Circuit. Rescuers had to cut open the car to remove Yau, who was taken to a hospital but declared dead 27 minutes after arrival.

On Thursday, Portuguese motorcycle rider Luis Filipe de Sousa Carreira was killed in a crash during qualifying for his event.

Despite the two deaths, organizers defended the safety of the street circuit and said none of the weekend's remaining events would be canceled.

"I don't think there is any question about the track; it has existed as it is for 60 years," race coordinator Joao Manuel Costa Antunes told the South China Morning Post.

Yau's Chevrolet Cruze went wide as it came around the right-hand bend and slammed into the crash barriers on the left side of the track. The car, with its left side crumpled, scraped along the barrier and flames burst out from the bottom.

The Macau government will cover all costs related to the deaths, organizers said.

"It's been difficult for us losing one of our colleagues," English motorcyclist John McGuinness said. "It's one of those things in racing and our hearts go out to the family and friends of Luis Carreira."

The Macau GP features races in Formula 3, the World Touring Car Championship, motorbikes and several other categories for amateurs and professionals. It's the only international street circuit meet in the world to combine four-wheeled and two-wheeled races in the same program.

"Unfortunately it is not very pleasant to have two accidents in two days. But every track has challenges and the track of Macau as a street circuit presents challenges that all the drivers have the opportunity to learn," organizers said.

The last death at the track was in 2005, and before that 1994, while a tourist was killed in 2000 when a car left the track, according to the South China Morning Post.

Organizers said Yau was an experienced Macau competitor who had won two races at the track. Carreira was competing for the seventh time in the bike race.

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