Macau’s most successful driver, André Couto, will make his traditional guest appearance in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at his home event next month.
The Portuguese-born driver will drive a third Campos Racing SEAT León alongside the team’s regular driver, Fernando Monje and Hugo Valente.
The Star Wars loving Couto has been a fixture at Macau’s annual motorsport festival since 1995, when he made his debut in the high-profile Formula 3 race, famously scrapping for the lead with Ralf Schumacher.
After six attempts at the event, he finally broke through to win on home soil in 2000, claiming victory when Narain Karthikeyan and Takuma Sato crashed out in the opening leg. It was the first time that a Macanese driver had won his home race.
Hopes of making it all the way to Formula 1 fell short, and since 2003 he has been a regular in tin-top and GT racing, competing in every European or World Touring Car Championship event on home soil since 2003, with the only exception being the 2007 event. Couto’s best WTCC finish was a seventh-placed result in Race 2 in 2006.
A popular member of the WTCC grid, Couto’s family became a focus for many of the series’ drivers after his son, Afonso, was diagnosed with leukaemia in late 2009.
Over the course of the 2010 season, many of the drivers carried advertising to promote a website set up to find a suitable bone marrow donor, and a donor match was successfully found in May, when a successful transplant was performed. Sadly for the family, Afonso succumbed to complications that November. His father took part in the Guia Race – barely three weeks after his son’s death – in his honour.