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FIA GT World Cup

Macau Saturday Notebook

Rene de Boer’s Saturday notebook from Macau…

Photo: Rene de Boer/Rebocar

***After yesterday’s qualifying, the FIA GT Committee made some changes to the pre-race Balance of Performance. The Mercedes-AMG GT3s that locked out the first four places on the grid for today’s qualification race were given a 30 kg weight increase, the minimum weight rising from 1330 to 1360 kg. The Honda NSX GT3 was given a 5 kg weight increase from 1275 to 1280 kg.

***Following Laurens Vanthoor’s race-ending crash in last year’s event, modifications have been made to the safety features at the circuit. The curbstones on the inside of the ultra-fast Mandarin corner have been removed and FIA-style fences have been installed at many places along the straights.

***With this year’s third running of the FIA GT World Cup, the current contract with the organizers of the Macau Grand Prix to have FIA status for their Macau GT Cup race is coming to an end, but there is little doubt that it will be renewed.

***For the third year running, the event is clashing with the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain, preventing some GT factory drivers, for instance from Porsche, from racing at Macau.

***Next year, the Macau event will not be clashing with Bahrain as the Gulf state no longer features on the WEC calendar, but instead the Shanghai round on the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ schedule is scheduled to be on the same weekend for 2018.

***Maro Engel’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 is sporting a special livery in the colors of Linkin Park and the 320 Changes Direction charity project in memory of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who passed away this summer. The project is aimed at increasing awareness for mental health issues and finding more ways to help cure them.

***Competing in the FIA GT World Cup for the second time this year, German team HBR Rutronic Racing has been granted works-supported status from Audi as it runs one Audi R8 LMS for Audi works driver and reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi.

***The plan for the German outfit that has mainly been competing in the lower-level DMV-GTC series in Germany is to step up to ADAC GT Masters for next year. “We want to run two Audis and negotiations with potential drivers are currently underway,” Fabian Plentz told Sportscar365. When the plans come to fruition, Plentz would be stepping down as a driver to fully concentrate on his role as team principal.

***Audi’s Robin Frijns explained that his contact with the barriers at the notorious Fisherman’s Bend in qualifying was the result of an ABS failure on his second flying lap. “I braked for the corner and the two front wheels locked up, so I ran out of space,” he said.

***Yesterday’s qualifying was the only car qualifying session all day that was completed without any red flags. Officially, there was a red flag following Laurens Vanthoor’s off in the closing seconds, but then the scheduled time had elapsed already anyway.

***Other series had significantly more problems. There were five red flags during FIA World Touring Car Championship qualifying and FIA Formula 3 World Cup qualifying was interrupted four times. Qualifying for the motorcycle Grand Prix was completed without interruption.

***Mercedes-AMG GT3s locked out the top four in qualifying, which many in the paddock assumed was because of a revised BoP that saw the Mercedes with a 25 kg higher weight, but also with a 1.5 mm larger air restrictor and therefore more power. BMW’s Augusto Farfus, however, claimed that he could “easily” have qualified second, had he not been held up by traffic on his flying lap.

***While Jose Maria Lopez is racing the Toyota TS050 Hybrid in the WEC season finale at Bahrain, his brother-in-law Sacha Fenestraz is a rookie in the field for the FIA Formula 3 World Cup at Macau.

***Fenestraz’s car, a Dallara-Volkswagen run by European Championship winning team Carlin, is sporting a Michel Vaillant livery. The plan is to have a new Macau-themed album of the popular comic series out late next year.

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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