The Guia Circuit in Macau is notorious for its degree of danger and difficulty and is one that draws the best drivers to the fore, so it was fitting that Kevin Gleason showed one of his strongest FIA World Touring Car Championship performance of his debut season, with two impressive points finishes in very difficult circumstances.
Gleason set up his weekend nicely with an exceptional qualifying performance, putting his privateer RC TC1 touring car sixth on the grid ahead a number of the manufacturer teams and works drivers and only narrowly missing out on the Q3 top-five shootout.
In the first of the weekend’s two races, Gleason benefitted from the reverse grid and started fourth but lost out early to slip back to sixth. An epic battle then ensued which saw Kevin under attack from eight-time Macau winner Rob Huff.
For three laps Gleason defended his position admirably, keeping the former World Champion and undisputed ‘King of Macau’ at bay with the battle dominating the crowd’s attention and the live TV coverage.
Eventually the pressure from the faster Citroen told and Gleason seeded the position to Huff and in the process losing momentum allowing the factory Volvos to nip through. A top ten finish was fair reward for a spirited drive from the American.
Race two took place in wet conditions with Gleason starting from sixth position. Following two-laps behind the safety car, the race got underway with Gleason slotting into eighth spot. As in race one he found himself under real pressure from behind, this time from the two factory Volvos of multiple Touring Car Champion Nestor Girolami and Nicky Catsburg.
This time Gleason mounted an even sterner defence, holding his line and nerve lap after lap until eventually the challenge faded and Kevin was able to claim his seasons best finish with the eighth place.
“I have to be pleased with this weekend, at times it was really difficult and I’ve grazed the barriers numerous times,” Gleason explained. “I was right at the limit and beyond to keep pace with the guys around me.
“After qualifying well and being ahead of my teammate (Yann Ehrlacher) for the first time this season, I was focussed on making the most of the opportunity and think I managed the best that I could with the Lada.
“At one point in race two I was pushing so hard to keep the Volvos behind me the car got loose and I was all crossed up between the barriers thinking to myself… oh no, I’m going to be that guy who goes off and blocks the whole track in Macau! But fortunately, I got away with it with no more than a few scuffs on the paintwork.”
Gleason now heads to the final round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Qatar for the night race which takes places at the Losail International Circuit 30 November to 1 December.