Preview FIA GT | World Cup – Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy team heads the field

The mighty new Mercedes-AMG GT3 were exhibited at Tap Seac Square before the race

The mighty new Mercedes-AMG GT3 were exhibited at Tap Seac Square before the race


Maro Engel (left) and Renger van der Zande

Maro Engel (left) and Renger van der Zande

Although a field of 23 cars is set to take the streets of Macau by storm for the second season of the FIA GT World Cup, the battle for the win is likely to be restricted to two out of the four manufacturers in competition.

The favorite is definitively the Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy team with the German two-time Macau winner and reigning champion Maro Engel heading the field alongside his teammate Renger van der Zande.

Experienced and driving one of the best cars from the lineup, the Mercedes drivers seem to have an easy path to victory.
To challenge the Mercedes team, Audi is bringing their best hand; the Italian winner of the title of “Mr Macau,” Edoardo Mortara. Mortara  will team up with another great driver, Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor. Both will be driving Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8’s LMS.

If the Mercedes and Audis are set to take the lead, surprises may arise for the Porsche side, who has former Le Mans winner and Porsche protégé Earl Bamber together with Frenchman Kévin Estre taking their 997 GT3Rs up the field.

Although the odds are not so much on their side, Bamber and Estre may use all their experience to secure an unexpected win.
For the first time, Lamborghini will be participating in the World Cup. The Italian manufacturer will bring their factory driver Mirko Bortolotti and local driver André Couto to drive  the Huracán GT3s. Lamborghini has stated that it expects good results from pairing the car know-how of Bortolotti with the circuit experience of Couto. The decision certainly seems like a logical one if the manufacturer has their sights set on the manufacturer’s title.

From the manufacturers league there will be other machines and their drivers that special notice should be paid to; the Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by the Thai Pasin Lathouras, the Bentley Continental GT3 driven by HK’s Adderly Fong, and the BMW M6 GT3 driven by Dutch Nicky Catsburg. These standouts  will try to battle their way to a podium finish amid a group of other Porsches, Audis, Ferraris and BMWs.

The big disappointments came over the poor results from Bentley last year, despite racing a good group of Continental GT3, as well as the miss of the Aston Martin raced by Craft-Bamboo Racing who this year will instead race two Porsche 997 GT3R.

Last year Craft-Bamboo took the two Aston Martins to third and fifth places overall thanks to the fancy footwork of Stefan Mucke and Darryl O’ Young. This time without Mucke, the wheel of the second Craft-Bamboo car will be in the hands of another great racer, the British Richard Lyons.

In addition to the more familiar faces,  newcomers Fabian Plentz and Tommy Tulpe will race under the colors of another newcomer, German Team HCB-Rutronik-Racing. HCB-
Rutronik-Racing will present two more Audi R8 LMS to the grid, which is already dominated by seven cars from the German manufacturer.

This year, the FIA has changed the rules in terms of how the title of the FIA GT World Cup for manufacturers will be decided, abandoning the 2015 point system. This year, the prize will be decided by a more standard overall classification.

The GTs will start to roar on Friday (November 18), when the qualifying session for the Macau GT Cup – FIA GT World Cup will be held. It is a session that will be decisive, since the size of the cars means that it is almost impossible to overtake throughout most of the circuit (an exception being the braking point at the Lisboa bend).

Before the qualifying session there will two 30-minute sessions of free practice.

A qualification race of 12 laps, or a maximum of one hour, takes place on Saturday (November 19) with the results deciding the grid for the final and main event to be held on Sunday (November 20), which includes an 18-lap, or maximum 75 minute race.

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