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FIA GT World Cup

Macau Saturday Notebook

Rene de Boer’s Saturday notebook from Macau…

Photo: FIA

Photo: FIA

***High-ranking FIA officials, including technical director Bernard Niclot and technical delegate Manuel Leal are present in Macau this weekend for the first GT event to be held under FIA patronage since the demise of the FIA GT1 world championship at the end of 2012.

***Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush is present in Macau, as are the heads of customer racing of Audi Sport, Romolo Liebchen, and Mercedes-AMG, Jochen Bitzer and HWA chairman Ulrich Fritz.

***Successful Belgian GT outfit WRT is expanding into touring cars next year as it will field cars in the new-for-2016 Benelux TCR series in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg and is also studying possibilities to compete in the TCR International Series.

***At Macau this weekend, WRT is running an Audi R8 LMS for German René Rast, who stepped in after Belgian Laurens Vanthoor was deemed unfit to race at Macau by Audi Sport’s medical staff following his accident in the Blancpain Sprint Series event at Misano.

***Of the drivers nominated to score manufacturers’ points, German René Rast (Audi), Thai Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak and Belgian Dylan Derdaele (both Porsche), Portuguese Alvaro Parente (McLaren) and Brit Richard Lyons (Aston Martin) had no previous experience of racing GT cars at Macau.

***Although we are still in 2015, two of the cars competing in the FIA GT World Cup already have a 2016 chassis number: Marchy Lee’s No. 30 Audi R8 LMS has number ‘AS4SAFGT201600040’, unrelated Jeffrey Lee’s No. 33 car was built next and accordingly has chassis number ‘AS4AFGT201600041’

***Reflecting the increased status of the GT cars during the Macau race weekend, GT teams have moved from the dreaded hot, noisy and smelly underground car park that traditionally serves as the paddock for support races in Macau and was also used for the Macau GT Cup in previous years, to the semi-permanent pit boxes at the back of the paddock. “A clear step forward to be able to see daylight, also when our cars aren’t on track,” a team member commented.

***Craft Bamboo Racing is pulling double duty this weekend, running all three Aston Martin GT3 Vantage cars in the FIA GT World Cup and looking after the Lukoil SEAT operation in the TCR International Series, for which the season finale in Macau has been given the prestigious status of the ‘Macau Guia touring car race’.

***All cars that crashed during yesterday’s qualifying session have been repaired and will take the start of the Qualification Race. FFF Racing Team worked all night to get Andre Couto’s McLaren back in shape for his home race.

***Rumors going round in Chinese media that the Asian-based Audi R8 LMS Cup could be cancelled for next year in the wake of cost-cutting measures in the Volkswagen Group proved to be wrong with the official announcement of a six-round calendar for next year, in which the new GT3 car will be used in the cup for the first time. The Cup will also be visiting Thailand for the first time with a round in Buriram scheduled for July 16-17.

***With the venue for one round in China in October or November still to be announced, it looks likely that the Audi R8 LMS Cup will no longer be part of the FIA WEC support bill at Shanghai, which it has been for some years. Likewise, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship will not be supporting the FIA WEC season opener at Silverstone next year. The fee required to feature on the FIA WEC support bill was reported as the reason behind this decision.

***A sales booth of high-quality scale model brand Spark, that has its offices in Macau and its production in nearby Zhuhai in mainland China, proves to be popular among the GT drivers as many scale models of cars that competed in the Macau GT Cup in previous years are available, some of them unseen anywhere else before.

***Some things are different in Macau. Paddock rules are displayed on large boards at several locations. Rule number 2: ‘Fighting and violence are prohibited.’ Always good to know!

Marcel ten Caat contributed to this report

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

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