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Manufacturers Set to Decide FIA GT World Cup Future

Manufacturers set to meet with FIA to discuss future of Macau event…

Photo: FIA

Photo: FIA

The FIA is set to meet with manufacturers next month to decide the future of the FIA GT World Cup, following last month’s controversial event in Macau that was marred by accidents and limited green flag running time.

Laurens Vanthoor claimed victory in the time-restricted event, despite ending the race on his roof, following an airborne accident that ultimately curtailed the race, after less than five laps were completed in a 90-minute period.

Runners-up Porsche, which entered two Manthey Racing-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Rs for Earl Bamber and Kevin Estre, have threatened not to return unless changes are made to the format.

“The Macau race for sure is a very special event with an interesting market and a good crowd and very good media attention,” Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser told Sportscar365.

“It has a long history and city races are part of GT racing also. There’s nothing wrong with that.

“But if it’s granted a World Cup with FIA it should be clear it’s the main act and have enough time to do whatever is necessary. And running out of time in a FIA-granted World Cup is not appropriate.

“If you ask me, it’s not professional enough… It’s a little bit of a trap for the organizers.

“Incidents can happen in a race like this, that should be known. We’re not complaining about this. It’s a bit of a gamble, but the execution of the timetable was not appropriate.”

As usual, GT3 cars shared the bill with Formula 3, but next year will see the return of the FIA World Touring Car Championshi — as a replacement to the TCR International Series — likely creating an even more compact schedule, particularly on Sunday.

“Under these circumstances, we will not come back,” Walliser said. “If there is a change and they will optimize everything… We will sit down with the FIA in January to discuss this.

“This is between the FIA and the manufacturers and we will see the outcome and then make the decision.”

Some manufacturers have questioned whether the World Cup should even return to Macau, despite the event’s prestige and large fan and media presence.

“For a special event like the FIA GT World Cup, you need a special venue and a special circuit, and there is no doubt that Macau is such a place,” Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke said.

“It is a circuit with its own DNA, which can only be compared to places like the Nürburgring [Nordschleife] or Bathurst.

“Of course, safety always has to come first, and we have to investigate how the accidents during this year’s race happened, but we certainly must avoid any knee-jerk reactions following this year’s race.

“Furthermore, Asia is an important market for us and the way in which our local importer [in Hong Kong] uses this event for promoting the brand also shows its significance.”

For Stephane Ratel, whose SRO Motorsports Group serves as the event coordinator on behalf of the FIA and Automobile Club of Macau, the Frenchman admits it’s a tricky situation.

“It’s a debate,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “Macau is challenging for powerful GT cars. It has proven and we had accidents this year.

“On the other hand, I don’t see another event like this. If you do a World Cup, it has an audience, it is a fantastic place and I will always support the idea of keeping it there.

“I don’t see another place where we could do it. Maybe the FIA will find a place. But I think Macau is the place in terms of making it an event.”

Porsche’s Walliser has also ruled out taking part in the World Cup next year if it again falls on the third weekend of November, Macau’s traditional date, which has clashed with the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain in recent years.

The German manufacturer will return to factory WEC GTE-Pro competition in 2017, with the same Manthey team that operated its World Cup entries this year.

“If WEC races in Bahrain [the same weekend] we cannot do both. It would not work,” Walliser said.

“That’s the second thing that has to be solved. Macau is known for 35 years on the same date. It’s not [a traditional date for] WEC for sure.

“Generating a new event is not so easy. In general, why not? But there’s also pros and cons and I will not clearly say this is the right way. We have to sit down and see how it will go.”

Rene de Boer contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. N8

    December 13, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Either move it or kill it. It’s beyond stupidity to hold something called a “World Cup” at a venue where passing is virtually impossible.

    And quite honestly, who needs or cares about it? Nobody. Ratel’s only interest is Macau is a parading around the paddock at a high profile event, flipping his hair back and forth, getting his ego stroked and having it all funded by the OEM’s.

    • Avery

      December 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

      +1, but I guess in a way if we didn’t have these kinds of races, then we probably wouldn’t appreciate IMSA and Le Mans as much. 😉

      • N8

        December 13, 2016 at 11:05 am

        …or Nurburging 24, Bathurst 12 or Ratel’s very own Spa 24. It’s not as if the GT3 category is desperate for a blue ribband event.

  2. Jason

    December 13, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Get rid of it you got the Blancpain Asia series coming anyway right? SRO I think you are biting a chunk too much here. Even the Sepang 24 can only get 15 GT3 cars.

    I think the Laguna Seca enduro is worth a shot though. But if after 1 race it does not work out than shunk it.

    • StueyB83

      December 13, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      SRO acts for the FIA as a promoter for Macau – its not their race its the FIA’s even down to the BOP.

      The race itself was a farce.. but so much room for improvement. Need to reduce the backmarkers which stunt sessions with crashes AND as porsche argues make sure the race gets a decent timeslot that is fixed in length

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