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