René Rast of Audi Sport Team WRT finished second in the inaugural FIA GT World Cup at the 62nd Macau Grand Prix where the next generation Audi R8 LMS car made its Asian debut. Rast, making his first appearance on the Guia street circuit this weekend, crossed the line third behind Audi Sport Team Phoenix driver Edoardo Mortara. Rast was then promoted to second after Mortara received a false start penalty. Mortara finished sixth, with Marchy Lee of Audi Hong Kong in eighth.
The three drivers were joined on the five-strong Audi squad by Jeffrey Lee of Taiwan, also in the new Audi R8 LMS car, and Hong Kong driver Philip Ma in the proven Audi R8 LMS ultra. Entered by Absolute Racing, Jeffrey Lee was 12th in the shortened 14-lap race, with Ma finishing 15th.
“It’s a tremendous achievement for René Rast to finish on the podium as a Macau rookie on this challenging circuit,” said Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “You could see during the race that he was always ready and waiting for his chance, which he took when it arrived. It’s a good start for the new R8 LMS in Asia. For me, Edoardo [Mortara] is still “Mr. Macau” as there is no other driver who has impressed here like he has with his spectacular overtaking manoeuvres and great results in GT racing.”
Starting from the front row, Italian Mortara – known as “Mr. Macau” for his victories from 2011-2013 with Audi in the Macau GT Cup and his two victories in the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix – stormed into the lead, getting past pole-sitter and rival Maro Engel, in what was later judged a false start. However, Engel re-took the lead in the run down to Lisboa and Mortara dropped down to fourth, with Rast behind him in fifth.
Mortara and Rast, the Nürburgring 24 Hours winner in 2014, pressured the drivers in front of them, waiting for their chance to move ahead. That opportunity came on Lap 12 when the pair in front came together. As they ran wide at Lisboa, Mortara got past, skillfully diving up to second in the order in what was the move of the race. Rast also took advantage of the opportunity, following Mortara behind in third.
When the Safety Car was called out on Lap 14, Mortara and Rast closed up behind Engel setting up to make their move when racing resumed. However, a multi-car pile-up further down the order as the field circulated behind the Safety Car brought out the red flag, and the result was called as of the end of Lap 14.
While Mortara crossed the line second, he was later handed a 20-second penalty for a false start and was pushed down to sixth in the order.
Further back, Marchy Lee, who started from 12th on the grid had moved up three places to ninth by the end of the first lap and after his move past Keita Sawa on Lap 4, Lee gave Audi Hong Kong a top-eight finish.
Said Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia: “Congratulations to Audi Hong Kong and Audi R8 LMS Cup driver Marchy Lee on securing a top-eight finish today in Macau. We are delighted to have joined together with the global Audi Sport customer racing programme for the inaugural FIA GT World Cup and to have given our fans in Asia the chance to see the new Audi R8 LMS car race for the first time in the region on the iconic Guia Circuit. We look forward to having the new car as a permanent fixture on the circuits of Asia in the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2016.”
The next generation GT3 car embarks upon an extensive programme in the region and will be part of the fifth season of the Asia-wide sprint race series, the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2016. 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.
FIA GT World Cup – Results
1. 1/Maro ENGEL/GER/Mercedes AMG Driving Academy/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2. 7/René RAST/GER/Audi Sport Team WRT/Audi R8 LMS/+2.900
3. 97/Stefan MÜCKE/GER/Craft Bamboo/Aston Martin Vantage GT3/+3.690
4. 2/Renger VAN DER ZANDE/NDL/Mercedes AMG Driving Academy/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3/+4.422
5. 55/Darryl O’YOUNG/HKG/Craft Bamboo/ Aston Martin Vantage GT3/+17.444
6. 6/Edoardo MORTARA/ITA/Audi Sport Team Phoenix/Audi R8 LMS/+22.321
7. 25/Alvaro PARENTE/PRT/FFF Racing Team/McLaren 650s GT3/+24.880
8. 30/Marchy LEE/HKG/Audi Hong Kong/Audi R8 LMS/+37.248
12. 33/Jeffrey LEE/TPE/Absolute Racing/Audi R8 LMS/+2:29.634
15. 98/Philip MA/HKG/Absolute Racing/Audi R8 LMS ultra/+1 lap
FIA GT World Cup – Driver Quotes
René Rast, Audi Sport Team WRT, 2nd
“I felt more comfortable from session to session. Obviously the first sessions were critical for me. I wasn’t that comfortable yet, but after the Qualification Race I felt very, very comfortable and then today even more. I think we had good pace today but as a rookie, it’s not easy so I’m pretty happy to be here on the podium with these experienced guys.”
Marchy Lee, Audi Hong Kong, 8th
“I was able to make up a few positions and get past [Keita] Sawa, which was difficult, but I brought the car home and I’m happy with a top eight finish. I know we could have done more, but it’s tough to learn a new car at Macau.”
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