The Macau Grand Prix gets underway from Thursday November 14 through to Sunday November 17 with its usual fascinating mix of two- and four-wheeled track action around the twists and turns of the 6.120 kms street circuit in the old Portuguese territory, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.
One of the highlights of the weekend will be FIA GT World Cup, this year contested by 17 cars representing four manufacturers.
With the rapid development of the Asian Le Mans Series and the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, the region is fast becoming a global focus for GT racing and the 2019 FIA GT World Cup has gathered some of the biggest names in sportscar racing to compete for the world title.
Mercedes will be the most represented marque on the Macau grid. Six examples of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be present with the cream of the factory driver line-up present.
Favourite amongst the Mercedes drivers must be Maro Engel, piloting the #888 GruppeM Racing entry. Engel has won twice on the streets of Macau, in both 2014 and 2015, and finished second in 2018. After the disappointment of narrowly missing out on the 2019 Blancpain GT Series title, the 34-year old pilot will be keen to get back on to the top step of the podium.
Edoardo Mortara will be at the wheel of the #77 Craft Bamboo Racing Mercedes and, having won in Macau in 2017, must also be considered a driver to watch. Two seasons competing in the ABB Formula E Championship with victory in Hong Kong this year will mean that the Italian driver will be used to competing on twisting street circuits.
Raffaele Marciello, driving the #999 GruppeM Racing Mercedes, will also be highly competitive, the 24-year-old Italian, now residing in Switzerland, having won the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title. After, by Marciello’s standards, a disappointing season in the premier European GT series in 2019, nothing less than victory in Macau will be sufficient.
Audi is represented by five examples of the R8 LMS and is providing a strong line-up of drivers.
Dries Vanthoor will be driving the #25 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi. Younger brother of Laurens Vanthoor, Dries Vanthoor finished ninth in the 2019 Blancpain GT Series drivers standings and is currently eighth in the Intercontinental GT Challenge standings. Vanthoor won at the Nürburging this year with teammates Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler and Frédéric Vervisch. The young Belgian driver is always highly competitive and, after having finished eighth in Macau in 2018, will be looking for a good result this year.
Charles Weerts will definitely be a name to watch, the 18-year-old Belgian driver having proved to be fast and reliable in 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe competition where he finished sixth in the drivers standings with teammate Christopher Mies. Although 2019 will be first year for Weerts in Macau, new circuits have not proved an obstacle in the past for the young driver who is only in his third year of car racing.
Porsche has made it clear that it has every intention of taking overall honours in Macau this year by bringing some of its best pilots for its four entries. Earl Bamber, at the wheel of the #98 ROWE Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R will be strong contender having won the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship GTLM class with teammates Mathieu Jaminet and Laurens Vanthoor as well as finishing second in the ADAC 24h Nürburgring this year.
Kevin Estre, driving the #912 Absolute Racing Porsche, must be a favourite, the 31-year-old French driver having lifted the FIA World Endurance Championship LM GTE crown in 2018-19 season. Estre will be competing in Macau for the first time in 2019.
A pair of BMW M6 GT3s will be on the Macau grid to represent the Munich-based manufacturer. Joel Eriksson will pilot the #91 FIST – Team AAI entry, the 21-year-old making his fourth appearance at the Macau Grand Prix but only his first in the GT category.
Joining Eriksson will be the 2018 FIA GT World Cup champion, Augusto Farfus Jnr, driving the #42 BMW. Currently sitting tenth in the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers standsings with fellow BMW pilot Martin Tomczyk, Farfus Jnr will be looking to repeat his 2018 success.
Track action for the SJM Macau GT Cup – FIA GT World Cup grid begins at 12:35 local time on Thursday November 14 with practice. Qualifying gets underway at 13:05 local time on Saturday November 16 with the lights going out for the 18-lap race in Sunday November 17 at 12:25.