Published on September 21st, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
McLaren Factory Star Joins FFF for Shanghai
The FFF Racing Team by ACM will head to its effective ‘home’ base this weekend, with the penultimate round of the GT Asia Series scheduled for Shanghai International Circuit in China. Coming off a mixed season which included victory in just their third event in the Asian region’s leading GT category, the team battled the intense heat and humidity last month during the Sepang 3-Hour without any great reward for their early practice pace, but for Shanghai – a circuit that many of their team know intimately – they are expecting a return to form.
Prior commitments will keep Andrea Caldarelli from rejoining the three-car McLaren 650S GT3 outfit, which has again seen a driver shuffle with the return of Fu Songyang [Sean Fu] to the #5 car, whilst the team will also be buoyed by the arrival of Portugese McLaren factory star Alvaro Parente. The final of the three FFF entries will once more be filled by the Australian pairing of Nathan Antunes and Rod Salmon, who have been in the seat of the #15 car since Fuji.
The pair are locked in a battle for the 2015 Australian GT crown, with Antunes fighting Nurburgring 24-Hour star Christopher Mies for the title in the car owned by two-time Bathurst 12-Hour champion Salmon. With China settling into Autumn, conditions are expected to be much better suited to the twin-turbo 3.8-litre McLaren V8 powered 650S. 12-months ago Hiroshi Hamaguchi was one of the early pace setters at Shanghai in practice in his McLaren MP4-12C, something he hopes to emulate again this weekend.
Shanghai also showed great reward in 2014 for drivers with local knowledge, something Hamaguchi and the team will be looking to emulate, and with all three cars back to their pristine best after Sepang where they suffered a litany of minor issues including an electrical gearbox failure for early pace-setters Liuzzi and Hamaguchi, the expectation from the team this weekend is high.
They will also be buoyed by news that McLaren claimed victory in the Nurburgring round of the Blancpain Endurance Series last weekend, with Hamaguchi’s 2014 team-mate Rob Bell behind the wheel, whilst Parente – a former British F3 champion – was an innocent party in an incident which eliminated his team mid-race whilst running with the leaders.