Edoardo Mortara of Audi Sport Team Phoenix will start tomorrow’s FIA GT World Cup from the front row after finishing second in today’s 12-lap Qualification Race at the 62nd Macau Grand Prix. Mortara, known as “Mr. Macau” for his three victories in the Macau GT Cup with Audi and his two wins in the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, is looking to win the coveted inaugural FIA GT World Cup Driver and Manufacturer titles with Audi. The Italian drives the next generation Audi R8 LMS car, which makes its Asian debut this weekend.
René Rast of Audi Sport Team WRT, making his debut on the famed Guia street circuit, was fifth in the Qualification Race and will start tomorrow’s 18-lap race from the third row. Marchy Lee of Audi Hong Kong was 12th.
The five-strong Audi squad, which also includes Jeffrey Lee of Taiwan in the new Audi R8 LMS car and Hong Kong’s Philip Ma in the proven Audi R8 LMS ultra, sees Audi Sport customer racing join together with the Asian racing programme of the brand. Jeffrey Lee and Philip Ma are entered by Absolute Racing.
“In the end, we are happy with the Qualifying Race,” said Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “We ended with second and fifth position, which isn’t absolutely in front but the call to the drivers was very clear – to be on the safe side and finish the race. The real race will happen tomorrow and this is what they are focused on. It will be very difficult and conditions very hard, and the only way to win the race is to make no mistakes. But now in the final race we have to push the limits.”
With the results from the Qualification Race setting the grid for tomorrow’s FIA GT World Cup, Mortara started the race from the front row having qualified second yesterday. The Italian, fourth in this year’s DTM (German Touring Car) championship, is determined to resume his domination of Macau, in car #7 sponsored by Tsingtao Beer, a premium brewery brand from China. Mortara won the Macau GT Cup each year from 2011-2013, but his winning streak was halted in 2014. Rast, the Nürburgring 24 Hours winner in 2014, adapted quickly and skillfully to the 6.2 km Guia Circuit, and was fourth at the end of the single qualifying session. Marchy Lee had an unlucky qualifying, hampered in his attempts to get a clear lap by no fewer than three red flag interruptions.
At the start of the Qualification Race, rival and 2014 Macau GT Cup winner Maro Engel got past Mortara, dropping the Italian to third. From pole position, Stefan Mücke held the lead. Rast also dropped down a place to fifth. Marchy Lee, whose #30 car is liveried in the iconic AAPE BY A BATHING APE red and grey camouflage, was able to move up a position before Lisboa, but would spend the remainder of the race trying to find a way past the car in front on the notoriously narrow track. While the three drivers fought hard to move up in the order, they were unable to find an opening. However, race winner Mücke later received a 10-second penalty, promoting Mortara to second.
As the R8 LMS makes its Asian debut in Macau, the new car embarks upon an extensive programme in the region and will also be part of the Audi R8 LMS Cup for the 2016 season. The car features improved aerodynamics, Audi lightweight technology and delivers up to 585 hp. Developed specifically for GT racing, the car is now available for customers to order.
Qualification Race – Results
1. 1/Maro ENGEL/GER/Mercedes AMG Driving Academy/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2. 6/Edoardo MORTARA/ITA/Audi Sport Team Phoenix/Audi R8 LMS
3. 97/Stefan MÜCKE/GER/Craft Bamboo/Aston Martin Vantage GT3
4. 2/Renger VAN DER ZANDE/NDL/Mercedes AMG Driving Academy/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
5. 7/René RAST/GER/Audi Sport Team WRT/Audi R8 LMS
6. 99/Richard LYONS/GBR/Craft Bamboo/ Aston Martin Vantage GT3
7. 19/Earl BAMBER/NZL/LKM Racing/Porsche 997 GT3R
8. 55/Darryl O’YOUNG/HKG/Craft Bamboo/ Aston Martin Vantage GT3
9. 25/Alvaro PARENTE/PRT/FFF Racing Team/McLaren 650s GT3
10. 15/Kevin ESTRE/FRA/ FFF Racing Team/McLaren 650s GT3
11. 88/Keita SAWA/JPN/Bentley Team Absolute/Bentley Continental GT3
12. 30/Marchy LEE/HKG/Audi Hong Kong/Audi R8 LMS
16. 33/Jeffrey LEE/TPE/Absolute Racing/Audi R8 LMS
21. 98/Philip MA/HKG/Absolute Racing/Audi R8 LMS ultra
Qualification Race – Driver Quotes
Edoardo Mortara, Audi Sport Team Phoenix, 2nd
“We keep a chance to win the race. We are in the top four and you need to be in the top four to have a chance to win this race. My race was pretty much over at Turn 1 when Maro [Engel] overtook me. After that, I could stay ahead of Renger [van der Zande], but I didn’t want to take too many risks.
We never give up and we’ll keep on fighting!”
René Rast, Audi Sport Team WRT, 5th
“I’m quite satisfied with today. We finished the race without a scratch on the car and while fifth is not the best, it’s my first time here in Macau. I think I’ve adapted to the circuit quite quickly and qualifying yesterday went well. Today I couldn’t overtake the Mercedes and I was just stuck behind Renger [van der Zande]. For sure we have the pace, but it just didn’t go our way today.”
Marchy Lee, Audi Hong Kong, 12th
“After a disappointing qualifying session yesterday I had to change my strategy. I played it safe today and just tried to learn with every lap. I got past André [Couto] before Lisboa I and then I spent the whole race trying to get past [Keita] Sawa in front of me. I think the speed is there, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
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