2015 FIA GT World Cup - Free Practice 1 | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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2015 FIA GT World Cup - Free Practice 1

The Mercedes-Benz duo of Renger van der Zande and 2014 Macau GT Cup winner Maro Engel set the fastest times on the spectacular Guia circuit in the opening FIA GT World Cup free practice session
2015 FIA GT World Cup

Second to Engel at Macau last year, van der Zande set the fastest time with a lap in 2m20.796sec, just 00.242sec quicker than his team-mate. The Dutchman was clearly delighted with his performance: “It was great to be out on this track again. It’s only once a year and only four days, so I’ve enjoyed every second of it. It’s so thrilling and exciting!” His teammate confirmed: “The first thing I have to say is - what a circuit! It’s always amazing to drive here, it’s just crazy and I can’t wait to get back out there!”

With two FIA titles at stake, drivers and manufacturers, both Mercedes AMG Driving Academy drivers are confident they have the right package with the SLS AMG GT3. “We have a very good base line from last year, and we know exactly what to do,” says van der Zande. “I’m also impressed with the performance of the Pirelli tyres. I took it very easy at the beginning as the track was very slippery. Later we made some adjustments. I went out again and bang, P1! The car feels really good and gives me a lot of confidence. With Maro on P2 I think it’s a perfect start for Mercedes. Let’s keep working on it to maintain our advantage.”

Engel confirms: “It’s too early to comment on the pace but I’m pleased. The Audis can obviously go a lot quicker and we expect much faster lap times from them. Last year I was first on day one and then it was different in qualifying so let’s stay focused. Anyway, it’s a good start for the team; we’ve got a lot of data to help us improve.”

The third-fastest time was set by three-time Macau GT winner Edoardo Mortara in the new Audi R8 LMS, which is making its Asian debut this weekend. The Italian was a bit frustrated but remains optimistic: “I pushed hard from the early laps onwards as the Mercedes are quite fast. There are a few problems with the car but we know exactly in which technical areas we have to work. No worries; we’ll see tomorrow.” Mortara is teamed with German René Rast, making his debut in Macau, and Honk Kong’s Marchy Lee for Audi’s assault on the first FIA GT World Cup.

Newly-crowned GT Asia Series champion Darryl O’Young was fourth-fastest in the Craft Bamboo Aston Martin Vantage GT3, ahead of 2015 Le Mans 24-Hours winner and Porsche factory driver, New-Zealander Earl Bamber with LKM Racing in one of the three Porsche 997 GT3Rs.

Winner of the 2000 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix and newly-crowned GT300 Japan Super GT champion, local hero André Couto, was the quickest of the three McLaren 650s GT3s in seventh place.