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FIA GT World Cup

Macau Friday Notebook

René de Boer’s first notebook from the FIA GT World Cup paddock in Macau…

Photo: Rebocar/Rene de Boer

***Following Sophia Floersch’s serious accident in last year’s Formula 3 race at Macau, an FIA investigation has looked into the safety of the track and several modifications have been carried out to the 6.12 km street circuit.

***In Turns 1 (Reservoir), 2 (Mandarin), 3 (Lisboa) and 4 (San Francisco), the barriers have been realigned and Safer Barriers were installed at Reservoir and Mandarin. Additional barriers were put in place at Turn 5 (Hospital). In the final part of the track, the barriers at Turn 20 (Fisherman’s Bend) were put back by two meters. Moreover, the so-called ‘photographers’ bunker’ at Lisboa Bend has been removed.

***An accident by Kevin Estre in the No. 912 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R in Free Practice 2 saw a lending hand from both ROWE Racing and Porsche mechanics to repair the car in time for qualifying. The Frenchman is set to roll off the grid in 14th. 

“Fifteen minutes after the start of the qualifying my car was back on its wheels,” Estre said. “Unfortunately there were still a few components on the vehicle that didn’t work perfectly. Under these circumstances, I couldn’t achieve more. I hope I can still work my way up the order in the qualifying race.”

***Several high-ranking representatives of the brands represented in the FIA GT World Cup are on-site in Macau. For Audi, head of customer racing Chris Reinke and Martin Kühl, head of Audi motorsport in Asia, are present. For Mercedes-AMG, head of customer racing, Stefan Wendl, has made the trip. Porsche has its head of motorsport Fritz Enzinger, also head of motorsport of the Volkswagen Group, as well as head of factory motorsport Pascal Zurlinden, GT3 R project leader Sebastian Golz and Alex Gibot, Porsche Asia director of motorsport on-site. BMW, meanwhile, has limited its presence to technical and PR staff from the company’s headquarters.

***Stephane Ratel, whose eponymous organization is working together with the FIA and SRO in the running of the World Cup, is present as well.

***Like earlier this season for their title-winning campaign in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Porsche drivers Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor produced a limited-edition T-shirt for their participation in Macau with their ‘#Bamthor’ trademark. The run of 50 t-shirts quickly sold out.

***Two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Manuel Reuter is present in the Macau paddock on duty as sporting director of German GT team HCB Rutronik, which is running Kelvin van der Linde’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo. Somewhat surprisingly, it is Reuter’s first visit to Macau.

“When I raced Formula 3, my team boss Bertram Schaefer wouldn’t let me race here because he thought I was too young and too inexperienced,” Reuter said. “It really is a special place.”

***The HCB Rutronik team took part in the GT race at Macau in 2016 and 2017 with gentlemen drivers ‘Tommy Tulpe’, the team owner, and Fabian Plentz. In 2017, the team first got factory support from Audi Sport customer racing with Lucas Di Grassi and ran Christopher Haase at Macau last year.

***The team’s main program this year was in ADAC GT Masters, where it ran two Audis for Patric Niederhauser/Kelvin van der Linde and Dennis Marshall/Carrie Schreiner. Van der Linde and Niederhauser won the drivers’ title while the outfit won the teams’ championship in its maiden season in the series.

***Macau-based scale model car brand Spark is the primary sponsor on Absolute Racing’s two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs. Company owner Hugo Rippert is a keen hobby racer himself and has enjoyed a long-term commercial partnership with several drivers, including Estre.

***Scale models of the Absolute Racing Porsches racing this weekend are already available at the Spark sales booth at the outside of the Macau paddock, where the brand’s high-quality scale models in various sizes are in great demand.

A display case with all the 1:43 scale models of the various GT cars that have raced at Macau over the years is a real eye-catcher. Several drivers are scheduled to sign autographs during the weekend, including Porsche pairing Estre and Alexandre Impertori and Mercedes driver Maro Engel.

René de Boer (@renedeboer) is a German-based motorsports journalist, contributing to a variety of publications worldwide, including, Autosport Japan and Motorsport aktuell.

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