This article first appeared in the 20th February edition of Autosport magzine
The Macau Grand Prix in 1984 was memorable for so many reasons. It was only the second race at Macau run for F3 cars and I look back on it very fondly. It was before Macau became a big commercial centre and it was a real adventure on and off the track.
I had come off the back of my second F3 season – I had been compromised by a severe lack of budget but I won at Silverstone. I went to Macau a week early so I could finalise my budget for the race. I locked myself away in my hotel room with the local yellow pages and started ringing up companies who I thought might want their name on the car.
Thankfully one did. It was the model car company Matchbox and I even managed to get enough money for Dave Scott’s car too! I was with Murray Taylor’s team in a Ralt RT3 and I told my mechanic Kevin Corin to take the rear wing flap off to make the car as slippery as possible because at Macau you need good straight-line speed if you’re to have any chance of overtaking.
In qualifying we were quick and I even remember Ivan Capelli coming up to me and asking for my settings. That was a satisfying moment.
I was surprised how quick the car was because I presumed I would be relatively slow in the tight corners, but it was just a great set-up.
I started on the fourth row of the grid for the first heat and had a crazy battle with Volker Weidler. We were pushing each other very hard and on one lap he shoved me towards the guardrail on the straight. I almost touched it but that wasn’t really the big issue. The main problem was that off-line there was lots of rubbish and a plastic bag got stuck in my radiator and cooked the engine.
I stopped on the circuit and as I climbed from the car I saw the familiar face of Teddy Yip beckoning me over. He made me a drink and I watched the rest of the race from his apartment terrace with him and some very striking female guests!
Between the races we changed the engine but because I retired I was starting near the back. I soon started cutting my way through the field and eventually got up to eighth, passing people and looking at who they were and thinking: ‘wow, this is mega, I’ve just blown Johnny Dumfries away!’
I was passing guys like Tommy Byrne, Emanuele Pirro and Roberto Guerrero as if they weren’t there. I was really walking on water that weekend and if hadn’t been for that bloody plastic bag who knows whatthe outcome could have been.
Anyway we had a great celebration with the Murray Taylor boys that night and it turned out to be my last F3 race before I went to F3000, so it was a great way to finish. And what a magic place to do it in!
Who is Mario Hytten?
Swedish-born but racing under a Swiss licence, Hytten made his name in Formula 3 in the early 1980s winning a British round at Silverstone in 1984. A full season of F3000 followed in ’85 with a podium finish at Donington. Sporadic F3000 races followed until 1988 before a switch to sportscars. After retiring in 1992 Hytten went on to form his own successful sports marketing company.