This weekend (Nov 19/20), the second edition of the FIA GT World Cup takes place on the famous street circuit of Macau. Among the competitors plenty of GT drivers that have starred in the Blancpain GT Series.
The FIA GT World Cup is an annual showdown for GT competitors across the globe. It creates a showcase for GT manufacturers thanks to an exclusive format in a highly prestigious location – Macau. Almost half of the 23 cars entered are driven by drivers that have been on a Blancpain GT Series podium in recent years.
Maro Engel is the defending champion in Macau, and the man who took a spectacular Pro-Am win in this year’s Blancpain GT Series Silverstone round. He will again be at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Among his competitors are former (class or overall) winners of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, such as Laurens Vanthoor (Audi), Nick Catsburg (BMW), Pasin Lathouras (Ferrari) or other Blancpain GT Series race winners such as Mirko Bortolotti (Lamborghini) or Kevin Estre (Porsche). Add to that Spa podium finishers such as Renger van der Zande (Mercedes-AMG) or Nico Müller (Audi) and it is clear that the GT World Cup will be a hard fought affair.
Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG GT3): “I always look forward to going to Macau. It’s such a special race, such a special event where the world’s lead GT drivers gather to compete for the win. Last year’s victory certainly is one of the highlights of my career. Macau certainly is a huge challenge with a GT car. It’s super fast at the bottom, well over 280 kph, with some high speed corners and then it becomes really tight in the mountain section. With these big, powerful GT cars, that mountain section really is something special.”
Nick Catsburg (BMW M6 GT3): “Macau is going to be a big challenge for me. It will be my first time on the track, which is obviously a quite unique track. Also, the team and car will be here for the first time so we really are starting from zero. I did some preparation on the simulator to at least learn where the track goes left and right. I expect it to be quite hard for us, the competition is strong and has experience. The heat will also play a factor; with high humidity it gets quite hot for us drivers in the car. But I am very much looking forward to this race and would like to thank Rowe Racing and BMW Motorsport for giving me this opportunity.”
Mirko Bortolotti (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) : “Obviously going to Macau with the win in the Nürburgring round of the Blancpain GT Series and with a positive end to the season, it’s definitely a good thing and hopefully we can carry that momentum into Macau, but the track plays a big role in the FIA GT World Cup, so we have to be realistic and keep our feet on the ground. You always go to a race with the aim to be successful, to be competitive and to win, that’s clear. But Macau is special, particularly when you do it for the first time and you go there with no experience. The approach is a bit different – it’s not a regular race on a track that you really know well like all the other race tracks we have in Europe. From a driving point of view, you have to really try to understand how much you can push and how close you can go to the walls. Obviously when you do it for the first time, you’re at a bit of a disadvantage to the guys who race there every year.”
Jochen Bitzer, head of AMG Customer Sports: “With the sensational win in the Nürburgring 24-hour race and the Blancpain GT Series title, 2016 has already been a very successful year for us. Defending the title in Macau would be the icing on the cake after an outstanding season. Certainly, the chances to do so aren’t bad at all, because with Maro and Renger driving our new Mercedes-AMG GT3, we have a competitive team on the grid.”
Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing : “With a mix of pros and amateurs we have a broad base and are well-positioned in Macau. Each of the four brands has to nominate two cars for the manufacturers’ classification. In our case, it’s the two Audi R8 LMS cars of Edoardo Mortara and Laurens Vanthoor. Having just barely missed victory in both races by a few seconds in second place last year, we’re determined to win this year.”
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3 team principal: “Our final event of the year is another absolute highlight, and we are really looking forward to our debut in the FIA GT World Cup. Road races are always something very special in today's motorsport circus since they are actually relics of an earlier time, like in Monaco or here in Macau. The set-up for a track like this is very different from for standard racetracks, experience is also important, which we still need to gain. But to be successful you have to make it to the finish line, which on a track this narrow that punishes even the smallest of errors is a real challenge. In the end, it might not be the best driver, best car or best set-up that wins, rather the best overall package."
Giorgio Sanna, Head of Motorsport of Automobili Lamborghini :: “Lamborghini Squadra Corse is really proud to be competing in such a demanding and exciting race like the Macau Grand Prix. It represents the Huracan GT3’s first appearance in the FIA GT World Cup and we are confident that FFF Racing Team, which has already won the GT Asia Series with our racecar, will do its best to be a top protagonist in this fascinating race. I’m also confident that the driver line-up, which consists of Lamborghini factory driver Mirko Bortolotti and Macau specialist Andre Couto, could make the difference on-track.”
Two free practice sessions will be held at 12:30 on Thursday (17 November) and 10:40 on Friday (18 November), while qualifying is scheduled for 14:55 later that same day.
The 12-lap FIA GT World Cup Qualification Race (12 laps) will start at 12:10 on Saturday (19 November), with another 18-lap contest at 12:55 on Sunday (20 November). (Time zone: CST (China Standard Time) – UTC/GMT +8 hours)
Live streaming via the following link : http://www.fia.com/macau-grand-prix-live-stream