***Erstwhile race winner Stefan Muecke wasn’t the only driver penalized after Saturday’s qualification race in Macau. Belgian Dylan Derdaele, the driver of the No. 20 Gulf Racing JP Porsche 997 GT3-R, incurred a 20-second time penalty for having overtaken André Couto while safety car conditions were still in place.
***Stéphane Ratel, who played an instrumental role in setting up the field for this weekend’s inaugural FIA GT World Cup in Macau, was very pleased with the outcome. “When you look at the quality of drivers and cars here, it is very good,” he told Sportscar365. “I can also see great potential for the future for this event.”
***Meanwhile, Ratel also had positive news to report for next month’s Sepang 12-hour race, for which his eponymous organization took up the role as promoter. “For Sepang, things are looking really good. We will have over 25 GT3 cars on the grid,” Ratel reported.
***The Mercedes-Benz sales organization for Hong Kong and Macau used the FIA GT World Cup for an event to launch the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé for the local market. Some 350 guests, including the two GT drivers Maro Engel and Renger van der Zande and double Formula 1 world champion and AMG brand ambassador Mika Häkkinen, plus AMG chairman Tobias Moers, were present at the stylish launch event at the ‘Venetian’ casino and hotel complex in Macau.
***Audi also put plenty of effort behind the activation of its participation in the FIA GT World Cup race. Chinese journalists first got to see the Audi R8 LMS at the Guangzhou Auto Show, which is also taking place this week, and were then present in Macau to see the new GT3 car in action.
***German race team Phoenix, running one R8 LMS for six times’ Macau race winner Edoardo Mortara this weekend, is studying possibilities to expand into the Audi R8 LMS Cup for 2016. “We are talking to drivers who are seriously interested,” team principal Ernst Moser confirmed to Sportscar365. Running cars in the Asian Audi one-make series would come as an additional activity to the team’s existing programs with the German manufacturer in the DTM and the Blancpain GT Series.
***Dutchman Ivo Breukers, the organizer and promoter of the 24H Series with his agency Creventic, was also present in Macau. “This is always a great event to maintain the contacts with Asian teams. Some of them, like Modena Motorsports, running John Shen’s Porsche in the FIA GT World Cup, will also be competing again in our 24-hour race in Dubai next January,” he said.
***Some teams had to work hard to get their GT cars ready again for the races. In the pit box of the Mercedes-HWA team, the lights didn’t go out before 5 a.m. on Saturday, after both Maro Engel and Renger van der Zande had crashed their SLS AMG GT3s in qualifying on Friday. A Mercedes show car that was on display in the ‘Venetian’ hotel was brought to the circuit for supply of spare parts.
***For the FFF McLaren team, it was likewise with André Couto’s car. On Saturday, the Absolute Racing crew was facing a hard job to get Adderly Fong’s Continental GT3 with livery of scale model brand Spark back in shape again for the race on Sunday.
***A racing driver present, but not driving in Macau, is Dutchman Indy Dontje, who raced with the ROWE and GT Russian teams in various Blancpain Series events this year. “I came here to support Renger (van der Zande), and because I wanted to see for myself what Macau is about, because I didn’t get to race here when I did Formula 3, but perhaps I will one day in GTs. I would love it,” Dontje said. On Saturday, he celebrated his 23rd birthday. “There are worse places to do so than Macau.”
***Prior to the weekend, nearly all drivers and riders taking part in the various car races and the motorcycle race during the 62nd running of the Macau Grand Prix gathered for a photo session in front of a historic temple, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
***Selected drivers, including GT Cup participants Edo Mortara and René Rast (Audi), Earl Bamber (Porsche) and Maro Engel (Mercedes-Benz) then went to the Macau Science Center for a ‘meet & greet’ with local school children. Event posters were handed out and countless autographs were signed.
***Despite having no presence in any of the categories racing at Macau, Maserati is supplying the official cars during the event for the first time. About 20 cars, mainly Quattroportes, serve as means of transport for race control, medical services, rescue crews and others. Reportedly, officials were very keen to drive the cars around the track during the official track inspection at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, in spite of the quite early hour.