In part one of this year’s FIA GT World Cup manufacturer focus FIA.com looks at the efforts of the customer racing teams from Audi and Ferrari preparing to take part in the 70th Macau Grand Prix weekend.
The two manufacturers are respectively spearheaded by a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner and a driver with no less than seven outright Guia Circuit victories.
PRANCING HORSE IN QUEST FOR MAIDEN MACAU PODIUM
Ferrari may be one of the biggest names in motorsport and may hold an incredible record in GT racing, but the Italian supercar manufacturer is still chasing its maiden podium in the FIA GT World Cup.
The Prancing Horse is set for its first FIA GT World Cup outing since 2017 when current IndyCar racer Felix Rosenqvist drove a 488 run by an American outfit Scuderia Corsa.
This year, the brand will have a two-car presence in the world’s most prestigious competition for GT3 machinery through Harmony Racing, the manufacturer’s first GT3 customer team from mainland China.
For Macau’s FIA event, the outfit has secured the services of Ferrari’s long-standing works driver and FIA World Endurance Championship regular Daniel Serra.
The Brazilian will pilot the 296 GT3, which he’s no stranger to, having driven the very same model in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup this year.
Despite only making its race debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, the 296 GT3 has already enjoyed considerable success, winning this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours in the hands of Frikadelli Racing Team with Earl Bamber (who will represent Ferrari’s archrival Porsche in Macau) as part of the line-up.
“I am thrilled to be going to Macau for the first time to compete in a car like the 296 GT3 on its debut in this unique event,” said Serra, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans LMGTE Pro class winner, whose main racing programme this year was with Kessel Racing in FIA WEC’s LMGTE Am class.
“It will be a substantial challenge for me and the team. The track is narrow with a very demanding layout and very slow corners. We won’t have much time to test before the start of the race, but we’ll do our best to get a good result in this new experience.”
The second entry from Harmony Racing’s stable is a 488 GT3 Evo 2020 driven by its team principal David Weian Chen. “I’m proud to take Ferrari back to the legendary roads of Macau, not only as team principal but also as a driver,” he said. “We are thrilled to be the team that will drive the car on its debut at the Guia Circuit in Macau.”
MR MACAU TO LEAD FOUR RINGS EFFORT
Audi will be on the lookout for its first FIA GT World Cup triumph since 2016, when Laurens Vanthoor famously won the red-flagged race sliding on the roof of his R8 LMS.
This year, the Four Rings will be represented by a quartet of cars, headlined by Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute duo of Edoardo Mortara and Christopher Haase, and with two other R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2s fielded by FAW Audi Racing Team and Uno Racing Team for silver-rated drivers, Chinese racer Frankie Congfu Cheng and Adderly Fong from Hong Kong respectively.
Nicknamed ‘Mr Macau’, Mortara, should be Audi’s most formidable force, having won on the Guia Circuit an impressive seven times, taking back-to-back victories in Formula 3 in 2009 and ’10, and winning the 2017 FIA GT World Cup for Mercedes. He also scored a hat-trick of GT Cup victories from 2011 to 2013 for Audi, before the event earned FIA World Cup status. The Swiss driver also has an Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup support race victory on his CV. Now back with Audi, Mortara will be seeking yet another Macau triumph.
“I’m very happy that the FIA GT World Cup is back in Macau. It’s a place that I know quite well and where I have great memories [from]. I’m very much looking forward to going back there and racing the best in GT. Hopefully we can do well,” said the 36-year-old.
Haase, Mortara’s team-mate for Macau, will make his third FIA GT World Cup outing, with his best result to date being the fifth place he achieved in 2019 as the highest-ranked car from the manufacturer in that edition.
The FIA GT World Cup gets under way on Thursday, November 16, with two 30-minute free practice sessions. A single qualifying session of the same duration follows on Friday to set the grid for Saturday’s 12-lap Qualification Race at 15:50 local time. The 16-lap FIA GT World Cup starts at 12:05 on Sunday (all times UTC+08:00). – www.fia.com