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FIA GT World Cup: Manufacturer Focus – Audi

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Four rings looking to repeat its 2016 success with five-car-strong line-up

Audi boasts a five-car line up in this year’s edition of the FIA GT World Cup, part of the 66th running of the Macau Grand Prix.

The manufacturer is aiming to repeat its 2016 success, when Laurens Vanthoor memorably won the race when its R8 LMS racer ended up on its roof bringing out the red flag.

With the Belgian racer now part of the Porsche set-up, Ingolstadt-based marque Audi will look to his brother – 21-year-old Dries.

The younger of the Vanthoor brothers has been part of the Audi stable since 2016 but really came of age in the last couple of seasons, having won last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour race and this year’s Nürburgring 24 hours.

Having proven his skills on some of the most demanding race tracks in the world, Vanthoor will be looking to add a triumph in the world’s greatest GT sprint race to his impressive resume.

Young gun Vanthoor is joined at Team WRT by an even younger gun – 18-year-old Charles Weerts, forming an all-Belgian line up. The teenager started out in Formula 4, with this chapter of his career being highlighted by the 2017-18 UAE Championship title.

Weerts then switched to GTs, proving his speed right away by qualifying on pole for both qualifying races and taking Race 1 victory in the 2018 FIA GT Nations Cup in Bahrain. Unfortunately, his team-mate retired the Team Belgium car on the opening lap of the race.

One R8 LMS will be entered by German outfit Phoenix Racing with experienced Christopher Haase behind the wheel. The 32-year-old has been racing GT machinery for a decade and his accomplishments include ADAC GT Masters and FIA GT3 European Championship titles, as well as two overall victories in the Nürburgring 24 hours and one in Dubai 24 Hour race.

Team Rutronik will also enter one car, driven by Kelvin van der Linde. The Rutronik-van der Line combinations (together with team-mate Patric Niederhauser) has a winning pedigree, having clinched the title in this year’s highly competitive ADAC GT Masters championship. It’s the second series title for the South African, who also won the 2014 title. He’s also a 24 Hours Nürburgring winner.

Last but not least, one car will be entered by Team Asia TSRT for Chinese racer Weian Chen.

Since Vanthoor’s 2016 triumph, Audi’s best result at the challenging Guia Circuit was Robin Frijns second place in 2017. Last year the Formula E regular was also Audi’s top driver, having finished fifth.