Q&A | Horst Saiger, Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix Rider: ‘Macau is an opportunity to close the season in style’

Racing for the first time in Macau 15 years ago, Liechtenstein-born Horst Saiger returns to the Guia Circuit this year for the 13th time.

In the record sheets, it shows Saiger won two fifth-positions on the demanding street circuit.

To learn more about the thoughts and feelings of Saiger regarding Macau’s race and more, the Times spoke to the racer in an exclusive interview ahead of the 66th Macau Grand Prix.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – What does the Macau Grand Prix represent for you in your racing career?

Horst Saiger (HS) – Macau is so different from all the other racing events and it is not only the Guia Circuit but also the place itself, the mix between Asian cultures and Portuguese culture, the contrasts between the old buildings and the new big casinos. It is all a mix of feelings.

In Macau, there is always a lot of tension at the race and especially in the very early morning practice sessions.
Overall, I would say that the Macau GP is a very good opportunity to have a good and notable race right at the end of the season and we know the [results] from the last race of the season often mean a lot when the time comes for you to go and meet your sponsors [for the upcoming season] or your new team.

MDT – People often say that “Road Racers” are just “mad people” – do you think this is true?

HS – “Mad” is completely the wrong word to define what we do. If you are mad on track, and on tracks like the ones we have on road racing, you would not be able to stay alive for long.

Road racing is a different world; you need to be part of it to be able to understand it.
For sure, every one of us appreciates our lives and our families very much, even more, as we are well aware of the dangers and risks we are taking.
The fact is, in road racing you live intensely and you enjoy moments in a much stronger and intense way than most people do.

We all know people whose lives are not much more than counting their days till the next holiday, probably because they hate their work, the same way some seem to be only counting their days as if they cannot appreciate their time on Earth.

MDT – Which are the sections of the Guia Circuit that you “respect” the most and what is the one you like the most?

HS – Well, the first and second corners are kind of “uufffff” and Fishermen’s [Bend] is pretty scary because you know that if something goes wrong with the brakes (and these things do happen, as we know) after you come down from the “Hairpin” and accelerate through all the straight sections [it wouldn’t be nice].

I have personally experienced that a couple of times and arrived without a working brake at Fishermen’s bend.

I guess that is also the reason behind some heavy crashes that occurred in past years at this corner (and with tragic consequences).

To be honest, I cannot state clearly why this happens (and with many riders) but I can say that now I will always do a “brake test” on the straight [section] on the way to “Fishermen’s.”

As for the section that I like the most, I love to accelerate uphill at San Francisco – it’s unique.

MDT – Whom do you think is in the best position to win in Macau this year?

HS – I would say definitely [Peter] Hickman or [Michael] Rutter, [who] are always the top favorites, but there are other good names that we should not forget, who always race very well in Macau.

MDT – How about your result?

HS – Every racer wants to win, otherwise it makes no sense to put all your money and time into this sport. But realistically speaking, I always aim for a final result between fifth and 10th position. If I can do better, for sure I will.
The [Yamaha] R1 [motorcycle] handles really well in Macau and it is also one of the motorcycles with the best engine power. Last year, I topped the list on two occasions for top-speed in the circuit.

MDT – People’s first impression of Macau is often that it is a very small place. How do you see it as a Liechtenstein resident? What are the resemblances and the main differences?

HS – It is larger than Liechtenstein! (smile). Liechtenstein is a very quiet place with a strong predominance of countryside and forest areas.
But, in fact, now we do have our first casino and people seem to wish to build many more of those… Personally, I hope the government stops that kind of development (as we do not want to have to surpass Macau in that field (smile). More seriously, it is really very different from Macau, I think, in opposite extremes. Both places have their good [points] and their bad [points]. In Liechtenstein, I love the walks in the forest and having a bonfire to cook sausages and baking self-made bread.

MDT – From all the tracks you have experienced, which one is your favorite and why?

HS – It will always be the TT Course [in the Isle of Man], which is just unbeatable. But Macau and Suzuka [in Japan] are completing my top three, followed by Imola [in Italy] and Laguna Seca [in the USA].

I am also a fan of the North West 200 [in Northern Ireland] and Terlicko [Circuit in the Czech Republic].

But, I would like to note that sometimes it is more about the people and their behavior and attitude that makes the place more likable than the racecourse itself.

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