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FIA GT World Cup Preview Part 2

This is the second half of my preview for this week’s FIA GT World Cup on the streets of Macau. You can find part one of my preview here. Despite only being a 17 car grid, it’s stacked with the best teams and drivers from Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche. Let’s look at the second half of the grid.

#97 Solite Indigo Racing Mercedes Benz AMG GT3: Roelof Bruins

South Korean Roelof Bruins makes his debut at Macau, off the back of winning the Blancpain GT Asia title this year. Bruins has cemented himself as one of the best amateur drivers in Asian GT racing, and now makes his international debut.

He continues with his Solite Indigo Racing team, taking advantage of silver rated drivers being allowed back. Against a very tough international contingent, he may struggle to win the class. The experience gained from racing against this high quality will only enhance his driving for the coming years.

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Roeflof Bruins celebrates his Blancpain GT Asia series title with co-driver Manuel Metzger. Photo: Blancpain GT Asia series.

#98 ROWE Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Earl Bamber

ROWE Racing made the switch last winter from BMW to Porsche, and now take up the mantle of a factory supported Porsche entrant. They have a two-car line-up, with this #98 entry in the hands of New Zealander Earl Bamber. He primarily races the GTE spec 911 in the IMSA series, but has plenty of GT3 experience.

Earl is one of the quickest Porsche drivers on the planet, although the marque has struggled at Macau. Their last podium was in 2016 and they’ve never won the FIA GT World Cup. The car has good traction, but Macau is so difficult because you need top speed as well as traction and downforce to be quick here.

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Earl Bamber at speed in the KUS Team Bernhard GT3 Porsche at the Spa 24 Hours in July. Photo: Motorsport.com

#99 ROWE Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Laurens Vanthoor

The second ROWE factory supported Porsche is this #99 entry for Laurens Vanthoor. The Belgian is coming off a stellar 2019 GTLM title in the IMSA WeatherTech series, with co-driver and friend Earl Bamber.

Vanthoor is a legend of GT3 racing, and famously won this race in 2016 after flipping his car, bringing out the red flags. He also has Le Mans and Nurburgring 24 Hour titles to his name, along with the IMSA GTLM crown. If Porsche can overcome previous shortcomings in this race, any of their four entries can win this race.

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Vanthoor pushing his Porsche 911 GT3 R to pole for the Nurburgring 24 Hours in June 2019. Photo: Porsche.

#888 Mercedes Benz Team GruppeM Racing Mercedes AMG GT3: Maro Engel 

GruppeM Racing are a titan of Asian GT racing, and now receive factory Mercedes support for a chance of a World Cup title. They have two entries, with a stellar driver line-up. German Maro Engel is a long-time Mercedes factory driver, and is arguably the best pound for pound Mercedes GT3 driver on the planet.

He returns to a happy hunting ground, having won the inaugural edition in 2015 and has finished on the podium in all four editions. The Mercedes AMG is well suited to Macau, and based on previous form they should enter as favourites. The competition within Mercedes is tough, but never discount Engel for victory.

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Maro Engel at the wheel of his Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3 at the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Barcelona. Photo: Motorsport.com

#911 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Alexandre Imperatori

This #911 entry has a strong local flavour, with Chinese team Absolute Racing fielding Chinese based Swiss driver Alexandre Imperatori. He has made his career in Asian motorsport, competing in Super Formula and Super GT. Imperatori raced for another Porsche team in Blancpain GT Asia, but joins Absolute for Macau.

He has also competed in a KCMG Nissan GT-R in the Intercontinental GT Challenge this year, so has plenty of GT3 experience. Imperatori doesn’t have the high-profile name like Vanthoor and Bamber, but can spring a surprise this weekend.

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Alex Imperatori impressed in Blancpain GT Asia in a Porsche, including this win in Buriram. Photo: SRO. 

#912 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Kevin Estre

Kevin Estre returns to Macau for the first time since 2016, looking for a first FIA GT World Cup win. Estre has earned tremendous success in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with GTE Pro class and Le Mans 24 Hours titles in 2018.

He was stunning and played a crucial role in the GPX Porsche teams win at this years Spa 24 Hours, arguably the biggest GT3 race on the planet. Estre has consistently proved his class in the past two years, so don’t be surprised if he adds a FIA GT World Cup title to his resume.

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Kevin Estre brings the GPX Porsche home for a momentous Spa 24 Hours win for Porsche. Photo: Porsche. 

#999 Mercedes Benz Team GruppeM Racing Mercedes AMG GT3: Raffaele Marciello

Team GruppeM have Mercedes support for Macau, and have brought a very good line-up with them. Alongside Engel is Italian Raffaele Marciello, who has proven himself as arguably one of the quickest GT3 drivers in the world.

Since switching to GT racing in 2017, he has been a top talent at this level, with a Blancpain World Challenge Europe title last year. Marciello is always quick at Macau, but has yet to solidify it with a podium. His bad luck won’t last forever, and he has as good as chance of victory as anyone in this field.

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Raffaele Marciello racing his AKKA ASP Mercedes in the Blancpain World Challenge Europe series this year. Photo: Motorsport.com

That wraps up my preview for what will be an entertaining FIA GT World Cup race at Macau. The circuit always provides action, and this year will be no different. A huge thank you to all websites cited for their photographs, and for all of you who read this blog. If you have any comments either leave them below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism.

 

FIA GT World Cup Preview Part One

The best in global GT3 racing return to the Macau Guia circuit for the fifth running of the FIA GT World Cup. The best teams and drivers from around the world put themselves to the test on one of the most challenging street circuits in the world. A return of the Silver Cup entries has boosted the grid to 17 cars this year.

The four German car giants are all set to do battle this year, bringing their best teams and drivers with them. It’s a shame other manufactures are not present for this race, but the costs involved make it difficult for many to compete here. Despite this the race will no doubt provide exciting and close racing, as this circuit has a habit of doing. Let’s run down the first half of the entry.

#5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS: Christopher Haase 

Audi factory driver Christopher Haase returns to Macau, this time with long-time factory supported team Phoenix Racing. It was a down year for the German, but he still secured a Dubai 24 Hours victory and 4th in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, showing the achievements he’s already secured in his career.

Haase finished 6th on his debut last year, in a year where Audi finished outside the podium. Phoenix Racing have been a Audi factory supported team for over ten years, and with Haase the only question mark is how the Audi R8 suits the Macau circuit in comparisons to their rivals.

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Haase in action with the Sainteloc team in Blancpain Sprint Series action in May this year. Photo:Motorsport.com.

#7 Zun Motorsport Crew Mercedes-AMG GT3: Adderly Fong

The Zun Motorsport Crew have emerged from the developing Asian GT racing scene, making their debut in the Blancpain GT Asia series in the finale in Shanghai. The team have switched from their usual Audi R8 to a Mercedes AMG GT3 for this event.

Adderly Fong is experienced in GT racing, having raced primarily in Asia for the past few seasons. He is a silver rated driver for Macau, and has a good chance of a class victory in a five-car class. With Macau experience and a well-suited Mercedes AMG GT3, he can impress in the World Cup.

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Adderly Fong in action earlier this year in the Audi R8 Asia Cup. Photo: Audi Media Center.

#10 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Charles Weerts 

Team WRT are synonymous with Audi, and are one of the most recognisable teams in GT3 racing worldwide thanks to their immense success. They haven’t won in Macau since 2016, and return with two entries this year. This #10 entry is in the Silver cup class for emerging Belgian talent Charles Weerts.

Weerts was a promising F4 racer in Germany, before switching to GT3 racing this year. Seventh and a win in the Blancpain World Challenge Europe was supremely impressive, given the immense quality on the grid. Weerts lacks experience in Macau, but is still a contender for a Silver cup victory.

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Charles Weerts Team WRT Audi R8 LMS at speed in the Blancpain Endurance Series earlier this year. Photo: Motorsport.com. 

#25 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Dries Vanthoor 

The second Team WRT entry is their contender for overall victory, and likely Audi’s best chance of a FIA GT World Cup victory. Team WRT are a premier Audi factory team worldwide, and they’ve brought Dries Vanthoor back to Macau.

Eighth last year on his debut was solid, but this year he will be a contender for victory. Dries is only 21, but already has Bathurst 12 Hour and Nurburgring 24 Hour victories on his resume. He’s firmly stepped out the shadow of elder brother Laurens, and is now a superstar GT3 racer in his own right.

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Dries Vanthoor in his Team WRT Audi R8 LMS at the Spa 24 Hours in July 2019. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#31 Audi Sport Team Rutronik Audi R8 LMS: Kelvin van der Linde

An under the radar contender for victory is this #31 Team Rutronik entry with Kelvin van der Linde. This team have emerged in the ADAC GT Masters series, winning the title comfortably this year with van der Linde and Patric Niederhauser.

The team competed at Macau for the past three years so have plenty of experience with Audi R8 at this circuit. Van der Linde is comfortable in this car and will be on a high from his ADAC GT Masters title, so could spring a surprise in Macau.

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Kelvin van der Linde at the wheel of his Team Rutronik Audi R8 LMS on route to a ADAC GT Masters title this year. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#42 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3: Augusto Farfus 

The undoubted story of the 2018 FIA GT World Cup was the emotional victory for Augusto Farfus, winning the final race for legendary team manager Charly Lamm at Schnitzer. Very sadly only two months later Lamm passed away.

Farfus and Schnitzer return, with this single car entry. Farfus drove superbly to win last year, as it appeared the Mercedes AMG was more ideally suited to Macau. A single car entry is usually restrictive in terms of opportunities to win, but Schnitzer have been a leading light for BMW for decades now and Farfus is a top line driver. Can they repeat their fairytale win last year?

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Augusto Farfus on his way to an emotional win for Schnitzer BMW last year. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#66 Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT Audi R8 LMS: Weian Chan

The fifth and final Audi Sport factory entry is in the Silver cup for Chinese driver Weian Chan. He is not a household name, but has developed in the Chinese GT championship, making his debut at the Blancpain GT Asia level this year. Tenth in the points and a podium is a good first season, giving the increasing professionalism in the championship.

With the might of Audi Sport behind him this drive at Macau will be about gaining experience and trying to exceed expectations of him. He may find it tough with a very good Silver class lineup, but he is still very early in his development as a GT driver.

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Weian Chen racing his Audi Sport Team TSRT in Blancpain GT Asia this year. Photo: Blancpain GT Asia via Twitter.

#77 Mercedes Benz Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes AMG GT3: Edoardo Mortara 

“Mr Macau” Edoardo Mortara returns for the chance of a second FIA GT World Cup title. Mortara won the Macau Grand Prix in 2009 and 2010, and has since added victories in the GT race in 2011,2012 and 2013 to his FIA GT World Cup title in 2017. Every year he is deserving of the pre-race favourite designation, and this year is no different.

The Mercedes Benz AMG GT3 is always very competitive on the Macau streets, and with factory backing matching the local experience of Craft-Bamboo, this combination will be tough to beat.

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Edoardo Mortara leading in his Mercedes AMG GT3 at Macau in 2018. Photo: Motorsport.com. 

#88 Mercedes Benz Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes AMG GT3: Alessio Picariello

Alessio Picariello has been one of the consistently quickest drivers from the Blancpain GT Asia series, and now makes his debut at Macau. Picariello is a silver rated driver, and despite tough opposition has a good chance of a Silver cup victory.

Craft-Bamboo only have one season of Mercedes experience, but with factory support they have quickly adapted to the AMG GT3. The car is very quick in Macau, with this package capable of exceeding outside expectations.

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Alessio Picariello racing in the Blancpain GT Asia series earlier this year. Photo: Blancpain GT Asia.

#91 FIST – Team AAI BMW M6 GT3: Joel Eriksson

Joel Eriksson returns to Macau, but for the first time in FIA GT World Cup. The young Swede reached FIA F3 level, competing in the Macau Grand Prix three times. After an agonizing second place last year, his attention switches to the GT race this year.

FIST – Team AAI are a leading GT racing team in Asia, and have years of experience with Macau. This will be vital as Eriksson knows the circuit, but not this M6 GT3. A podium would be a tough ask against such a quality experienced field, but he has the speed to do it should the opportunity present itself.

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Joel Eriksson racing his BMW M4 in the German DTM series this year. Photo: BMW Motorsport.

That wraps up the first half of my preview looking ahead to the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, I hope you enjoyed reading it! Part two will be on the way very soon so stay tuned for that. If you have any thoughts on this preview leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism.

Macau Grand Prix Preview Part Three

Here is the third and final installment of my preview for the 66th Macau Grand Prix. If you want to look at part one it’s here and for part two it’s here. This race always provides drama and intrigue and the roll call of previous winners is like a who’s who of Formula One racers.

The likes of Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell have competed for the win in recent seasons. Let’s take a look at the final portion of the impressive 30-car entry list.

#24 Jenzer Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Andreas Estner

Andreas Estner will be looking to build on a tough debut season at this level. The German was solid if unspectacular in ADAC F4, and this has followed him in 2019. He remains with Jenzer for Macau, although with impressive team mate Yuki Tsunoda jumping to Hitech, he may be forced into a leadership role at the team.

Estner is making his debut at Macau this year so it’s likely he’ll use this year to gain experience, before hopefully returning next year to build on his debut campaign.

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2019 has been tough for Estner, in what can be classed as learning year before potentially returning next year. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#25 Sauber Junior Team by Charouz Dallara F3 2019: Callum Ilott

Callum Ilott returns to Macau looking for victory on his fifth attempt. The Brit drops from FIA F2 for a chance of an elusive victory in Macau. The Ferrari junior does it with the Sauber backed Charouz team, a team that struggled in their first season at this level.

The Ferrari academy prospect has been in contention in previous years, but due to bad luck his best result remains 5th in 2016. Although he’s running with an unfancied team and he lacks experience with this new 2019 spec F3 machine, Ilott is a dark horse to upset the full season contenders in this one-off showpiece.

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Ilott has plenty of Macau experience, but none with the new 2019 F3 Dallara. Macau levels the playing field, so could his win on his fifth attempt? Photo: Motorsport.com.

#26 Sauber Junior Team by Charouz Dallara F3 2019: David Schumacher

The Schumacher name has a new chapter in motorsport, with David Schumacher following in the footsteps of father Ralf along with uncle Michael and cousin Mick. Schumacher raced to 4th in the Formula Regional European Championship, with only a solitary round of FIA F3 racing in the season finale at Sochi.

His results showed his lack of seat time in the car, and with only two seasons of racing experience having a team mate like Ilott will be a massive help. This years entry is about gaining experience, as he builds up to a likely promotion into FIA F3 full time in 2020.

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David Schumacher endured a difficult debut FIA F3 weekend in Sochi, but it’s good experience for a potential entry in 2020. Photo: FIA F3.

#27 Sauber Junior Team by Charouz Dallara F3 2019: Enzo Fittipaldi 

The famous names continue at Charouz, with Ferrari academy driver Enzo Fittipaldi joining the Ferrari affiliated team for Macau. The young Brazilian grandson of double world champion Emerson joins after a highly successful season in the Formula Regional European series.

He finished 2nd to runaway champion Frederik Vesti, and both step up for Macau before a likely full season move into the series next year. Fittipaldi has justified the hype so far in his career, and he could add to that with a strong performance on his debut in Macau.

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Enzo Fittipaldi in action in the FREC championship this year. How well will he adapt to a new team, car and circuit in Macau? Photo: Scuderia Ferrari.

#28 Carlin Buzz Racing Dallara F3 2019: Logan Sargeant

Logan Sargeant has found the going tough in FIA F3 this year, his first in F3 after stepping up from the Formula Renault Eurocup. With an inexperienced driver line-up the team struggled. Sargeant secured four points finishes, but with a best result of eighth.

The American is a promising prospect, but may struggle with a lack of experience at Macau. For Sargeant a top ten result would be a confidence boost and something to build upon in 2020.

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Logan Sargeant is hoping to buck the recent trend of American drivers finding it tough to reach F1. He has plenty of potential, something we will see more often next year in F3. Photo: FIA F3.

#29 Carlin Buzz Racing Dallara F3 2019: Felipe Drugovich

Felipe Drugovich found the going tough in FIA F3 this year, much like fellow rookie and team mate Logan Sargeant. Both struggled for most of the year, although Drugovich did score a top six result in Hungary for his only score of the season.

The reigning Euroformula Open champion couldn’t get the new generation Dallara to his liking, but sticking with Carlin for Macau will help his adjustment with this unique street circuit. The Brazilian has shown his talent in other series so 2019 can be put down to a learning year before a crack at the title in 2020.

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Drugovich joined the series with some promise as a dominant Euroformula Open champion, but found the going much tougher at the FIA F3 level. Photo: FIA F3.

#30 Carlin Buzz Racing Dallara F3 2019: Dan Ticktum

2019 promised so much for Dan Ticktum, but it’s hard to think of how it could have gone any worse. He began the year with an outside chance of a Toro Rosso F1 seat, yet fast forward eleven months and he has been dropped by Red Bull and lost his Super Formula seat in Japan.

The decision to drop him less than a year after winning a second Macau Grand Prix was premature, and Ticktum looks to rebuild his reputation by making history as a three time consecutive winner in Macau. He lacks experience with the 2019 spec Dallara, but he still has a good chance of victory.

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Dan Ticktum began the year on the cusp of a F1 seat, but ends it looking for redemption in Macau after the toughest year of his career so far. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#31 Campos Racing Dallara F3 2019: Alessio Deledda 

Alessio Deledda endured a difficult 2019, struggling to adapt to the FIA F3 series. He only has two years of car racing experience, and to step into such a highly competitive championship was always going to be tough.

He remains with Campos for his first crack at Macau, although with a best finish of 16th all season simply finishing and gaining more experience for next year would be a good weekend for the Italian driver.

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Alessio Deledda has struggling mightily in FIA F3 this year, so gaining experience before a return next year is perfect for him. Photo: FIA F3.

#32 Campos Racing Dallara F3 2019: Enaam Ahmed

Enaam Ahmed returns to FIA F3 after a year spent racing in Japan. The Brit showed potential in his debut year in 2018, with two wins and 9th in the standings. Moving to the Japanese F3 series this year, he finished a distant 3rd.

Campos struggled this year, and their line-up for Macau suggests Ahmed will be leading the line this year. Having crashed out on his debut last year, he will hope he can test himself well against the next wave of talented junior drivers.

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Enaam Ahmed moved from Europe to Japan this year, and acquitted himself well as he looks to start his professional career in Asia. Photo: Enaam Ahmed/ThreeBond Racing.

#33 Campos Racing Dallara F3 2019: Leonardo Pulcini   

Italian Leonardo Pulcini moves across from Hitech GP, securing a late deal to join Campos Racing for Macau. He drove for Campos last year in GP3, securing an impressive 4th behind the ART GP domination. He struggled to adjust as well to the FIA F3 spec Dallara, with eighth and one win a backwards step.

Campos as a team struggled in 2019, and with a lack of Macau experience they may find it a frustrating weekend. Pulcini has obvious talent, but inexperience and a struggling team may hinder his progress. A top six would be an amazing end to his season.

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Leonardo Pulcini racing for Hitech GP in the FIA F3 series this year. Photo: FIA F3.

That wraps up the third and final part of my preview for the upcoming Macau Grand Prix. This race always delivers exciting racing and will feel like the end-of season party for the FIA F3 community. If you have any thoughts on this topic either comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

 

Macau Grand Prix Preview Part Two

Here is part two of my preview for the upcoming 66th Macau Grand Prix. You can find part one of my preview here. This race is a massive end of season event and the drivers always love coming to Macau. This year see’s another healthy 30 car grid filled with at least a dozen contenders for victory. Let’s take a look at the second portion of the grid.

#14 Trident Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: David Beckmann 

David Beckmann will be disappointed with his 2019 season, failing to adjust to the new Dallara F319 after an impressive 2018 GP3 campaign. ART Grand Prix are a good team, but after showing initial promise in the opening rounds his season tailed off massively.

After missing the final round in Sochi he returns to the series with Trident. The team had a mixed season with Pedro Piquet finishing fifth but their other two drivers finished outside the top ten. Beckmann has flashed promise, and has some Macau experience from 2016, but would need an upturn in form to challenge for victory.

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David Beckmann struggled with ART in 2019, and after four years at this level is likely to move on next year. Can he finish with a flourish on the streets of Macau? Photo: Motorsport.com.

#15 Trident Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Alessio Lorandi 

Alessio Lorandi returns to FIA F3 for Macau after a year spent in the karting world. Lorandi spent four years at this level between 2015-2018 before moving up to a partial season in F2 last year, replacing the sacked Santino Ferrucci at Trident.

Rejoining the team for Macau after a year out of cars is a bold move, but Lorandi was quick on his only previous visit to Macau in 2015. A top ten finish on his debut is a great result, but he may struggle to match that considering his lack of experience with this car.

#16 Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara Volkswagen: Alessio Larandi

Seventh on his debut at Macau in 2015 is impressive, but after a year out of car racing it will be an incredible result if he can match it this year. Photo: Motorsport.com

#16 HWA Racelab Dallara F3 2019: Jake Hughes 

Jake Hughes appeared to slightly stagnate in 2019, although there are plenty of mitigating circumstances that didn’t help him. After four years at this level Hughes finished seventh this year in FIA F3, with the highlight a solitary win at the Red Bull Ring.

A lot of this was down to his slow start to the year, as new team HWA Racelab adjusted to the Dallara F3 car. Hughes remains with the team for Macau, and in two previous starts he’s finished sixth and fourth. He would be a smart under the radar pick for victory.

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Jake Hughes has impressed bringing HWA up to speed in F3, but will have maybe hoped for slightly more in his fourth year at this level. Can he end his season on a high? Photo: Motorsport.com.

#17 HWA Racelab Dallara F3 2019: Keyvan Andres

The 2019 season will have been a disappointment to Keyvan Andres, who regressed in his third year in FIA F3 after making progress last year. Ending the year with no points and a best finish of 13th will leave Andres with questions as to his plans for 2020.

For Macau he remains with HWA, and he will hope to improve on his DNF from last year. After such a tough year and his issues at Macau last year running cleanly and finishing the race is an improvement for him going forward.

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Keyvan Andres struggled mightily with the new Dallara F3 2019 this year, and will simply want to put this season behind him and regroup for next year. Photo: Motorsport.com. 

#18 HWA Racelab Dallara F3 2019: Sophia Floersch

Sophia Floersch joins HWA Racelab for Macau, replacing Dutch driver Bent Viscaal. Floersch made headlines in 2018 with a terrifying accident at Lisboa, suffering a spinal fracture, with her accident leading to safety modifications for this years event.

Floersch was set to compete in the Formula European Masters, but when that folded switched to the Formula Regional European Series. 7th is a solid showing from her, although she may struggle with a lack of experience in this Dallara and a very competitive entry list.

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Sophia Floersch made world headlines with her sickening accident in Macau last year, although bravely returns for another crack at a good result this year. Photo: AP.

#19 MP Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Lukas Dunner 

Lukas Dunner moves up to FIA F3 for Macau as an audition for a potential 2020 move into the championship. He moves across from the Euroformula Open series, where he showed flashes of speed and good consistency, but failed to top it off with a win.

Third in Euroformula Open is a good result for the 17 year-old, but the move into FIA F3 also see’s a big step up in driver quality. With a new team and driver for Macau this will give him key experience before a potential return full time next year.

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Lukas Dunner in action in the older-spec F3 machinery in Euroformula Open this year. He will learn a lot at Macau for 2020. Photo: Fotospeedy.

#20 MP Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Liam Lawson 

For Liam Lawson, 2019 has been a damn good year for the 17 year-old New Zealander. A Toyota Racing Series title started the year out perfectly, also bringing him to the attention of Red Bull. Third in Euroformula Open despite missing four races is impressive, along with a solid rookie season in FIA F3.

MP Motorsport weren’t seen as a front running team for large portions of the season, but Lawson ended the year with a podium and led the team in points. It’s his first time in Macau, a place where experience is key to victory. Lawson has built a solid foundation in 2019 to kick on and challenge for the title next year.

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Liam Lawson impressed in a number of series this year, no doubt impressing his Red Bull backers. Photo: Motorsport.com

#21 MP Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Richard Verschoor 

Dutchman Richard Verschoor returns to MP Motorsport for Macau, in a late deal announced last week. The former Red Bull junior driver had a solid debut season, with a strong end to the year a highlight.

Verschoor doesn’t have any Macau experience, and will be fighting with team mate Liam Lawson for top honours at MP. Both have had good 2019 debut seasons, and if they return next year can contend for wins. With so much quality in this field, a top ten would be impressive on his debut.

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Dutchman Verschoor is a double former F4 champion, but his progress has stuttered slightly since 2016. He has a lot to build on going into 2020. Photo: FIA F3.

#22 Jenzer Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Arjun Maini 

2019 has been busy for Arjun Maini, and he ends it with the most demanding street circuit on the planet. Maini has shown flashes of real potential, including tenth on his debut at Macau in 2015. After progressing to FIA F2 in 2018, his career has stalled however.

He has dovetailed FIA F2 with European Le Mans Series commitments, showing his future career path appears to be in sportscars. After three years away he secured a late deal to join Jenzer for Macau, in what should be an extremely fun weekend for the young Indian driver.

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Arjun Maini burning rubber leaving the pits in FIA F2 this year. Photo: Joe Portlock/ FIA F2.

#23 Jenzer Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Hon Chio “Charles” Leong

Charles Leong is the only driver representing Macau in his home race this year, returning after a quiet 2019. He appeared at the final round of the FIA F3 series in Sochi, in preparation for a return to his home streets.

He struggled at the FIA F3 level last year, and with little experience of this new car he will likely struggle again here. He was involved in an opening lap crash last year so a clean race and a finish will be a big improvement for Leong.

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Charles Leong has had a quiet 2019, but will no doubt love returning to his home streets of Macau. Photo: Autosport.com.

That wraps up part two of my Macau Grand Prix preview, if you have any thoughts on this topic either comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Also, a massive thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!

Macau Grand Prix Preview Part One

The Macau Grand Prix is the most prestigious one-off race in the junior racing calendar, with former winners including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. The race has been open to Formula Three cars since 1983, and every driver that has raced here raves about how challenging the street circuit.

Unlike most street circuits this has plenty of fast corners, along with the slow turns and unforgiving nature typical of most street tracks. After some concerns the revamped FIA  F3 cars wouldn’t be able to return, safety changes were implemented to ensure the FIA Formula Three World Cup returned to it’s rightful home in Macau. Part One looks at the first third of a talented 30 car entry this year.

#2 SJM Prema Theodore Racing Dallara F3 2019: Marcus Armstrong

Ferrari Academy driver Marcus Armstrong will be looking for a Macau win after team mate Robert Shwartzman bested him for the FIA F3 title this year. The New Zealander impressed in his second year in the category, with three wins.

He was a consistent points scorer, and proved a close challenger to Shwartzman until a non-score in the penultimate round at Monza ended his chances. He is a very promising prospect and with the might of dominant team Prema behind him he will be one of the race favourites.

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Armstrong must enter the race confident with his experience and Prema backing him this year. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#3 SJM Prema Theodore Racing Dallara F3 2019: Frederik Vesti 

Vesti was a late addition to the Prema team, replacing Jehan Daruvala after a training injury. The Dane steps up as Formula Regional European champion, with a truly dominant season. 13 wins in 24 races is impressive, and explains why Prema are promoting him for Macau.

Vesti made his Macau debut last year, acquitting himself well with a solid 15th in his first F3 race. Now returning with Prema and full of confidence he may surprise some with a strong run at Macau, before a likely step up to FIA F3 with Prema for 2020.

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Frederik Vesti claiming one of his 13 wins in 2019, but how will he adapt stepping up to the FIA F3 level? Photo: FormulaScout.com. 

#5 SJM Prema Theodore Racing Dallara F3 2019: Robert Shwartzman     

2019 has been a standout year for Robert Shwartzman, winning the first title of the revamped FIA F3 series. The Ferrari Academy driver fought off fellow Ferrari junior and Prema team mate Armstrong for the title.

He impressed last year as a rookie with third, but stepped up this year with three wins and seven further podiums from 16 races. The Russian will want a Macau win as the cherry on top, and ninth on his debut last year shows he’s a favourite for the win before he moves upwards next year.

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Shwartzman was a worthy champion this year, and looks destined for F1 at this stage. As a Ferrari Academy driver, could he be the one to replace Sebastien Vettel soon? Photo: FIA European F3.

#6 Hitech Grand Prix Dallara F3 2019: Juri Vips

Juri Vips was the only significant challenger to the Prema juggernaut this year, contending for the title right up to the penultimate round. The Red Bull junior led his Hitech team this year,scoring almost double the points of his next closest team mate.

Vips caught attention with blinding speed a rookie last year, but returned this year a more consistent driver. He was Shwartzman’s closest challenger until a barren run of two point scores from the final five races curtailed his season. He looks the next promising Red Bull prospect to get a chance in F1.

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Juri Vips was blindingly quick this year, and looks certain to progress through the ranks with Red Bull going forward. Photo: FIA European F3.

#7 Hitech Grand Prix Dallara F3 2019: Max Fewtrell 

Max Fewtrell acquitted himself well in the highly competitive FIA F3 series, stepping up as Formula Renault Eurocup champion. He fought all season with team mate Christian Lundgaard for top honours within their ART Grand Prix team.

Ironically, both him and Lundgaard are Renault junior drivers and they fought for the Formula Renault Eurocup title last season. There was a lot of promise to build on for next year, with two podiums and 10th in the standings impressive for a debut campaign. He will want to build experience at Macau towards a title challenge next year.

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Max Fewtrell beat Christian Lundgaard to the Renault Eurocup title last season, but the Dane beat him to best rookie honours in FIA F3 this year. Both will enter 2020 as title contenders. Photo: Joe Portlock/FIA European F3.

#8 Hitech Grand Prix Dallara F3 2019: Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda was one of the unheralded stars of the 2019 FIA F3 season. The reigning Japanese F4 champion made his debut in Europe and led an unfancied Jenzer team.

His lack of experience explains his inconsistent campaign, but he showed flashes of real potential. Most impressive was his string of three consecutive podiums late in the year, culminating in his first victory at Monza. He joins Hitech for Macau and may surprise with his pace.

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Yuki Tsunoda showed promise in 2019, and with both Red Bull and Honda backing him expect him to be a contender for the title next season. Photo: FIA European F3.

#9 ART Grand Prix Dallara F3 2019: Christian Lundgaard

Christian Lundgaard showed himself as the top rookie of the 2019 season, with a podium in the opening race a statement from the young Dane. A win later in the year in Hungary cemented himself as a prospect to watch, before his season petered out in the final races.

Sixth as a rookie is very impressive and he remains with ART Grand Prix for Macau. With Renault F1 backing he has shown enough to be worthy of contention for victory. Setting fastest times on two of the three post-season F3 test days shows he’s one to look out for next year.

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Lundgaard is another to have shown massive potential in his rookie campaign, and post-season testing is showing he should feel confident for 2020. Photo: FIA European F3.

#10 ART Grand Prix Dallara F3 2019: Ferdinand Habsburg 

Ferdinand Habsburg returns to FIA F3 for Macau, after a very difficult debut DTM campaign for Aston Martin. He returns after spending the last two years in F3, and is most well known for his dramatic collision with Sergio Sette Camara on the final corner of the 2017 Macau Grand Prix.

This year may be tougher as he will have to learn the new Dallara F319 very quickly if he wants to contend for victory. After a difficult year he will no doubt enjoy such a challenging circuit with a good result the icing on top for the Austrian.

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Ferdinand Habsburg crawls across the line after colliding on the final corner fighting for the Macau GP win in 2017. Photo: Motorsport.com.

#11 ART Grand Prix Dallara F3 2019: Sebastian Fernandez 

Sebastian Fernandez struggled in his sophomore FIA F3 campaign, but a move to the more fancied ART Grand Prix team will boost his chances for Macau. Racing for Campos this year his best finish was 12th on the opening weekend, as he struggled with the new Dallara F319.

His results in two seasons of FIA F3 and his lack of experience at Macau don’t suggest he will challenge for the win, but the move to ART could means he ends the year on a high with a top ten finish.

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Sebastian Fernandez has struggled in two seasons of FIA F3, but could his Macau form improve with ART Grand Prix? Photo: Motorsport.com.

#12 Trident Motorsport Dallara F3 2019: Oliver Caldwell 

Caldwell steps up to FIA F3 for Macau after a year in the feeder Formula Regional European Championship. The series is new this year and uses a similar F3 chassis and Caldwell will be using Macau as an extended test for a potential step up to FIA F3 in 2020.

Caldwell has impressed with fifth in the series. He raced for Prema all year but switches to Trident for Macau. The team helped Pedro Piquet to fifth so they have some good pedigree however with a rookie driver and unfancied team a top ten would prove a good result.

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Olli Caldwell took this win at Imola in a good debut campaign at the F3 level. This Macau berth is a likely precursor to a full FIA F3 campaign in 2020. Photo: ACI Sport.

This wraps up part one of my preview for the upcoming Macau Grand Prix. Stay tuned for part two and three, and if you have any comments on this preview or the race itself feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

College Football Week 11 Review

Week 11 did not disappoint, with some incredible games features national contenders. LSU stole the headlines with their win over Alabama, with Minnesota also getting publicity for their upset win over Penn State. Let’s look at the main talking points from a fascinating week of college football.

1) LSU Seal Historic Win Over Alabama

Alabama have been the top dog of college football for a decade now, but this past weekend LSU toppled Bama in Bryant-Denny stadium. It was the Tigers first win over Alabama since 2011, and has massive play-off implications.

LSU overpowered Alabama 46-41, with quarterback Joe Burrow silencing the last of his doubters with a incredible performance against a Bama defense loaded with NFL talent. 393 yards and 3 TD’s along with 64 rushing yards was enough to punish Alabama, who made some uncharacteristic errors in this one. LSU still has to face Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but their path to a national title is in their hands.

2) LSU Solidified as Number One

The first College Football Play-off rankings made some headlines last week, as they anointed Ohio State number one over LSU. After their win against a third ranked Alabama on the road, there will be no doubt LSU returns to number one this week.

Ohio State look very good this year, but LSU now has four wins against top ten teams, something no other play-off team can match for strength of schedule. For Alabama a play-off berth is still within reach, but it needs other contenders to lose down the stretch.

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Joe Burrow and head coach Ed Orgeron lead the celebrations after their 46-41 win over Alabama. Photo: USA Today Sports

3) Minnesota Spring Upset on Penn State

Despite the massive hype surrounding the LSU – Alabama game, Minnesota still managed to steal some headlines with their massive upset win. The undefeated Golden Gophers took down the fourth ranked Penn State 31-26, a win that has vaulted them to national attention.

Head coach P.J Fleck signed a seven-year contract extension worth $33.25 million, to ward off potential interest from bigger schools like Florida State. Minnesota have now jumped to seventh in the latest AP Poll, and if they remain unbeaten this year could find themselves in the hunt for a national title.

4) P.J Fleck on National Radar After Win

One of the hottest names in college coaching right now is P.J Fleck, who only enhanced his reputation with a upset win over Penn State. The Minnesota head coach is now 9-0 this year, and his team are ranked in the top ten for the first time since 1962.

Fleck recently signed a long-term extension at Minnesota, after being touted for the vacant Florida State job. With other top line programs like Tennessee and USC struggling, it’s clear Fleck will have coaching offers in the years to come. Him and his team have captured the nations attention this year.

5) Baylor Survives TCU 

Baylor survived it’s first major test of the season, overcoming TCU 29-23 in triple overtime. Baylor have made a comeback this year, at 9-0 and ranked 12th in the nation. This wasn’t a vintage Baylor performance, but they survived a tough road game with a win.

TCU did a good job stopping the high powered Baylor offense, limiting them to less then 300 total yards. The win keeps Baylor in the Big Ten title hunt, but first they must overcome two very tough games ahead.

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Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer dives in for a touchdown in their 29-23 triple overtime win against TCU. Photo: AP/Ron Jenkins 

6) Tough Schedule for Baylor

Baylor sits at 9-0 atop the Big 12 standings, but their perfect season ends on a much tougher note. They did well to overcome TCU, but now face Oklahoma and Texas in the next two weeks.

The game against Oklahoma should be a high scoring affair, but despite a good offense they can’t match the weapons Oklahoma has. Texas will also be a tough test, despite their 6-3 record. Considering in their last two games Baylor have struggled against 4-5 TCU and 3-6 West Virginia, the next two weeks will show how talented this team really is.

7) Weekend Roundup

This past weekend was arguably the biggest of the season, with plenty more games that had interesting storylines. Oklahoma were a failed two-point conversion away from falling to Iowa State, a loss that would have ruined their faint hopes of a play-off berth.

13th ranked Wisconsin overcame 18th ranked Iowa 24-22. They relied on running back Jonathan Taylor, who gashed the usually stout Iowa defense for 250 yards on 31 carries. Taylor is the focal point of this Wisconsin offense, and they needed every one of those yards to beat Iowa.

8) Chase Young Latest

Heading into last weekend’s games the chatter was surrounding Ohio State player Chase Young. The stud defensive end was suspended this past weekend, pending a NCAA investigation into a loan he acquired from a family friend in 2018.

He says the loan was to buy a plane ticket for his girlfriend to watch him play in the Rose Bowl, and that he paid the loan back swiftly after. Ohio State pummeled Maryland 73-14 without him, but they’ll need him in the play-off run, as he absence could drag on much later in the season.

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Chase Young tackles Wisconsin QB Jack Coan earlier this year. His absence will be a big loss for Ohio State. Photo: USA Today Sports

9) AP Top 25 Poll

The week 12 AP Top 25 poll has been released, with no surprise that LSU is on top. Ohio State is second, with Clemson and Alabama rounding out the top four play-off places. Georgia and Oregon are close behind in fifth and sixth, with Minnesota the biggest riser to seventh. Utah, Penn State and Oklahoma round out the top ten.

Florida, Baylor and Auburn come next, with Michigan staying in 14th. Wisconsin swaps places with Notre Dame to round out the top 15. Texas jumps back into the top 25 in 22nd at 6-3, with Iowa slipping to 23rd. Indiana and Oklahoma State are the other newcomers in 24th and 25th respectively.

10) Arkansas Fires Chad Morris

Sadly another football coach was fired this past weekend, with Arkansas dismissing Chad Morris, less than two years after hiring him. His record was a lowly 4-18, and went winless in 14 SEC games. Since taking over in December 2017, they have been the bottom feeder of the SEC and have made no sign of obvious progress under Morris.

Tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr will serve as interim head coach until the end of the season. Early names being linked with the job include Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, Bill Clark at UAB and Eli Drinkwitz at Appalachian State.

That wraps up my review of week 11 of college football, a massive thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it. If you have any thoughts either comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism.

College Football Week Eleven Preview

This weekend has been eagerly anticipated since the early weeks of the season, and that’s for one reason. Second ranked LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to face third ranked Alabama, for the most important game of the college football season. Their is also a battle of two unbeaten sides, and a state rivalry game too. Let’s look at the main talking points heading into a massive weekend of college football.

1) LSU – Alabama Preview

LSU heads to Alabama hoping to shock the world, in a true clash of the titans. Both are ranked in the top four, with the winner almost certainly jumping to number one. LSU are the surprise package with Joe Burrow, who is having a career year. Over 2,800 yards with 30 TD’s to four interceptions in eight games explains why he is shooting up NFL Draft boards.

Alabama star QB Tua Tagovailoa returns after undergoing ankle surgery, which is the only concern for Bama. LSU have lost starting linebacker Michael Divinity for personal reasons. Watching the Alabama receiver trio battle a loaded LSU secondary will the matchup to watch.

2) LSU Starting Linebacker Leaves Team

LSU announced on Monday that starting linebacker Michael Divinity has left the team for personal reasons. Both sides haven’t ruled out his return later this season, but he is still a big loss for the Tigers.

In five games this season he leads the team with three sacks and also recorded four tackles for loss. It’s unclear if he absence is because of injury or discipline problems. Head coach Ed Orgeron has said backup’s Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton will step up in his absence. This is a big loss for LSU, especially on the eve of their biggest game in years.

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LSU linebacker Michael Divinity lining up in their 45-38 win over Texas in September. Photo: Hilary Scheinuk/ The Advocate.

3) Penn State – Minnesota Preview

This is an intriguing matchup of two unbeaten teams, with fourth ranked Penn State travelling to Minnesota. The 17th ranked Gophers have surprised many with their 8-0 start, but this is by far their toughest test.

Penn State have had the headlines stolen by LSU and Alabama, but have quietly enjoyed a very good season. Both are complete teams, especially on defense with both units ranked in the top 15.  Despite home field advantage, Penn State should have enough to overcome a very good Minnesota team.

4) Battle of the Unbeaten Teams 

On any other weekend this would be the marquee game, but it stands in the shadows of the LSU – Alabama matchup. Both teams are very good, especially on defense. Penn State sophomore Sean Clifford has emerged, with over 1,900 yards along with 20 TD’s to three interceptions all year. He is helped by receiver KJ Hamler, who is 13th in the nation with eight touchdowns in as many games.

Minnesota has some offensive studs too, with running back Rodney Smith leading the way. He is on pace for a 1,500 yard season. The Gophers also have receiver duo Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson, both with over 600 yards already.

5) Baylor – TCU Preview

This Texas rivalry has a lot on the line for both teams. Undefeated 12th ranked Baylor has a short road journey to TCU, for a game with all the hallmarks of being an upset. TCU has fallen off this season, currently with a 4-4 record. Baylor is 8-0, however their only marquee wins have come against Iowa State at home and on the road to Kansas State.

Baylor is marginally better on offense, currently averaging 480 yards of offense compared to TCU’s 441 yards. On defense it’s TCU that is marginally better however. In a hostile atmosphere Baylor will have to be at their best to avoid an upset here.

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Baylor players celebrating a touchdown in their win against Texas Tech last month. Photo: Rod Aydelotte/Wacotrib.com.

6) Toughest Game yet for Unbeaten Baylor

Baylor are having a great season at 8-0 and ranked inside the top 15, but some question their strength of schedule in the Big 12. Baylor’s top wins are Iowa State and Kansas State, and in their previous game sneaked past a 3-5 West Virginia team.

This TCU matchup is the first of a nightmare three-game stretch in which they play TCU on the road and face both Oklahoma and Texas at home. TCU is only 4-4 but they can easily cause an upset and derail Baylor’s season with a win here. A lot rests on this game for Baylor.

7) Iowa – Wisconsin Preview

The big games keep on coming this weekend, with another intriguing matchup between two ranked teams. 18th ranked Iowa travel to face 13th ranked Wisconsin, similarly matched with 6-2 records.

Wisconsin is looking to rebound after two tough losses, and with home field advantage they should feel confident. Iowa has recovered from their two losses, and this game will likely decide the Big Ten West.  Iowa has seemed a little flat this year, with a top six defense making up for their 81st ranked offense. Expect this to be a low-scoring defensive slug fest.

8) Jonathan Taylor Looking to Rebound

The Ohio State defense smothered Jonathan Taylor in their last game, holding the star running back to 52 yards on 20 carries. These are rough stats for a player who will be a first round NFL Draft pick in 2020 if he declares.

The junior running back is a household name in college football thanks to his immense production, currently at 5,180 yards in less than three years. The fact he has 1,009 yards in eight games in what is being called a down year shows just how effective he’s been. The Iowa defense is a top unit, but he should get more action then he did against the Buckeyes.

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Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has made a habit of running away from defenders in his three years at this level. Photo: USA Today Sports.

9) Other Games to Watch

In such a loaded week of college football, these games will go under the radar but will be worth watching. Ninth ranked Oklahoma welcome Iowa State, for a game the Cyclones have made a trap game in recent years. Oklahoma are rebounding from a tough loss, and Matt Campbell has made a habit of upset wins against ranked opponents.

Other games to watch include 16th ranked Kansas State travelling to face a good Texas Longhorns team, and 19th ranked Wake Forest travelling to face a good Virginia Tech team.

10) Chase Young Suspended for Potential NCAA Violation

Stud Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is suspended for this weekend’s game against Maryland, as the school investigates a potential NCAA violation. It appears the issue is a loan he received from a family friend last year. This could end his college football career, as he may miss the rest of this season and is likely to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Young has been the best defensive player in college football this year, and leads the nation with 13.5 sacks. He also have five forced fumbles, and has been key to a Ohio State defensive unit that ranks second in the nation.

That wraps up my preview of a loaded weekend of college football action, if you have any thoughts about it let me know down below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!