Preview, FIA GT World Cup, Macau/China
Four Porsche 911 GT3 R racers will tackle the 2019 FIA GT World Cup in Macau (China) on 17 November. The customer squads Rowe Racing and Absolute Racing each field two 500+hp GT3 vehicles at the world’s toughest road race. World sports car champion Kévin Estre (France) and his works driver colleagues Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) take on the special challenge at the high-speed street circuit. Alexandre Imperatori from Switzerland rounds off the line-up at Macau.
The FIA GT World Cup
The 6.115-kilometre-long Guia Circuit in the former Portuguese colony of Macau is regarded as one of the most challenging racetracks in the world. The long straights, fast bends and spectacular passages such as the Lisboa corner are renowned far beyond the borders of China. Another feature of the circuit in Asia’s gambling paradise: the tight Melco Hairpin right-hander is under permanent yellow with a strict ban on overtaking in all practice sessions as well as the race. Car and motorbike races have been held on the streets of Macau – sections of which are just seven metres wide – every year since 1954. The FIA GT World Cup has been a regular fixture at the Macau Grand Prix weekend since 2015. Unlike at many other events, the grid spots are determined in a qualifying race held on 16 November.
Factory drivers Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor will man the cockpits of the two Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Rowe Racing. The Belgian won the spectacular road race in 2016 after an intense two-way fight with his current teammate Bamber. World sports car champion Kévin Estre travels to Macau riding high on the back of his overall victory at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The Frenchman drives one of Absolute Racing’s Porsche GT3 R. Swiss racer Alexandre Imperatori competes in the sister car of the Asian customer squad.
Comments prior to the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Motorsport): “The FIA GT World Cup is always a real highlight at the end of the motorsport season. The high-speed circuit, the famous corners and the backdrop of large casinos and hotels create an impressive setting. We’re turning up with a particularly strong line-up this year and, as such, there can be only one goal: a Porsche 911 GT3 R should win the Macau road race.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “We have two strong customer teams and four very fast ace drivers competing. The signs look good for a successful performance. We’ve become more and more familiar with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R over the course of the year and we’ve celebrated many successes around the world. The car has what it takes to lead the field at the sprint on the tight and fast Macau circuit. The qualifying on Friday and the qualifying race on Saturday represent two key events on the way to a good result in the main race.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Macau is one of my all-time favourite venues to go racing. For me, the circuit is in the same league as the Nordschleife and the Mount Panorama Circuit at Bathurst. After a two-year break, I’m finally returning to the Guia Circuit. I’m super excited. I haven’t driven for Absolute Racing yet, but I’m very familiar with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Our car has notched up a raft of successes around the world, and I hope to add another accolade to the list in Macau.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #98): “I had a very fast car last year, especially in the race, but there was no chance to overtake on this tight and fast circuit, which prevented me from getting to the very front. This year we need to do everything we can to achieve a better grid position in qualifying. The Porsche 911 GT3 R will help us with this. I’m looking forward to competing for Rowe Racing with Laurens. We’d like to add another chapter to our #BamThor story. I’m really excited about this.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #99): “Since my victory at Macau in 2016 I’ve only had bad luck. Since then I’ve not seen the chequered flag once at this wonderful street circuit. I always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This definitely has to change this year. This is the first time we’re driving the new Porsche 911 GT3 R in Macau. The car has huge potential to fight at the very front of the field there. I’m confident that we’ll be strong on the Guia Circuit and I’ll finally manage to get back on the podium.”
Alexandre Imperatori (Porsche 911 GT3 R): “I’m really excited to be competing in this year’s FIA GT World Cup in Macau with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. The race through the streets of this gambler’s metropolis has a very special meaning for me. The competition will be fierce this year, with many strong teams and fast guys contesting the race. But I really love such challenges. I’ve raced at Macau a lot, but I’m still waiting for my first win. For me personally and for my team Absolute Racing, we still have a score to settle with the stunning Guia Circuit.”
Porsche factory press release
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG