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Just as the qualifying race was full of drama and intrigue, so too the ‘main event’ at Macau, the inaugural FIA GT World Cup was a race of challenges that concluded with a red flag and a blocked circuit, the event classified four laps short of its proposed race distance but with an emphatic back-to-back victory for Maro Engel and Mercedes Benz.GTAsia_Macau_R2_Engel_BL_med

Off pole position Engel was beaten into turn one by arch-rival Edoardo Mortara – the Audi driver perhaps anticipating a repeat of the Mercedes driver’s start in 2014 – although his anticipation ultimately led to his downfall, the Italian penalised ten seconds post race, dropping him off the podium and down to sixth place.

For Engel though, no such dramas, the German was through on Mortara by Mandarin corner (turn two) with team-mate Renger van der Zande tucked under his rear wing, the power of the mighty 6.3-litre Mercedes V8 overcoming the drive of the Audi to be first and second by Lisboa (turn three) with Stefan Mucke through to third by turn four, taking advantage of the demise of team-mate Richard Lyons.

The GT Asia Series front-runner had made a blistering start from the third row and was looking for a way around Mortara and Rast into Lisboa, but was hit from behind by FFF Racing Team by ACM star Kevin Estre, who in turn was hit by Earl Bamber, forcing all three into retirement as a result.

Lyons was understandably annoyed by the outcome in what was his debut on the Guia circuit, having admitted pre-race that he felt more than capable of making the podium.

“It has been a really tough end to a really great weekend,” he admitted with a shrug. “We built speed with me and my debut weekend gently. We got the car tuned up for the main feature race starting sixth. We were up to third or fourth by turn three but out of nowhere a McLaren driver ran out of talent and hit the back of me and that was it.”

Estre too was disappointed having made a strong start. “Today I had a really good start and overtook two or three cars into Mandarin, but coming into Lisboa, I braked at the point I thought it was okay, then suddenly the Aston [Lyons] broke really hard so that he could make the corner, and I had too much speed, so when he stopped to turn in I hit him, and the same thing happened from behind with Bamber hitting me.”

Behind the leaders GT Asia Series champion Darryl O’Young and 2015 title rival Keita Sawa made solid starts to be holding down seventh and eighth, with former round winners Marchy Lee and Pasin Lathouras completing the top ten.

From there it was relatively processional until lap 12 when van der Zande was tapped in the rear by Mucke at the Melco hairpin as the duo negotiated one of the slower Porsches who was gathering himself up after a moment on the exit. That forced the bodywork onto the left rear tyre, creating a heavy plume of white smoke as the Dutchman started down the hill towards the end of the lap.

By Lisboa, the two Audis made a move as Mucke – who had been locked under the rear wing of the #2 SLS – tried to take a run down the outside of van der Zande, the Craft-Bamboo driver though forced back to fifth as first Mortara and then Rast made their way down the inside, taking the Mercedes at turn four in the process.

Mucke ultimately made it through on the run up to San Francisco, as van der Zande did what he could to carry on despite the mounting damage to his left-rear Pirelli.

Whilst the Audis and Mucke battled with van der Zande, up front Engel stretched his lead out to more than eight seconds, but just a lap later his advantage was negated after Vuttikhorn went into the barriers on top of the hill, blocking much of the circuit.

As the field circulated behind the safety car, a second incident involving John Shen and a number of the GT Asia Series regulars blocked the track at Moorish Hill, the race director having little choice but to red flag and ultimately declare the race, much to the pleasure of the #1 Mercedes driver.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m overjoyed as the best GT drivers were up against each other in this race, so I’m proud to be the first winner of the FIA GT World Cup,” Engel admitted with a wide smile. “I’m especially proud of my team. I made a big mistake in qualifying on Friday and I thought right there, standing on the wall, that my weekend might be over and I blew the opportunity we had here. To win this race is amazing because I just love this place and I love this track.”

Mortara was initially classified second with team-mate Rene Rast third, the two Audi drivers taking to the podium with Engel, before Mortara was handed his ten second penalty for jumping the start. That elevated Stefan Mucke to third, the German though lamenting what could well have been another great 2015 victory for the Craft-Bamboo Racing team.

“Tough race today, the start was a bit of nightmare,” Mucke admitted. “I went on the green but everyone went a bit earlier but I was able to get to P3 by Lisboa. I tried to pressure the Mercedes but they played the game very well, blocking us all the time in the hairpin. I tried my best, pushed as hard as I could and got the fastest lap. Unfortunately there was no chance of passing. Then, out of the hairpin on full throttle the Mercedes lifted again and there was contact. I had a better run onto the straight so I tried to out brake him as this was my only chance but he was constantly hitting my car and almost pushed me into the barrier, so I lost some more places. I am incredibly disappointed, the team deserved more and Aston Martin deserved more.”

Van der Zande held on for fifth at the flag, but was ultimately promoted to fourth with Mortara’s penalty, whilst reigning GT Asia Series champion Darryl O’Young was fifth.

“After the first corner incident one of the Porsches had a crash and drove slowly around the whole lap and didn’t pull over, so I lost 15 seconds,” O’Young explained post-race. “I was able to find my way past the McLaren and the gap closed up under the safety car but there was a red flag which ruined a good finish.”

FFF Racing’s Alvaro Parente was seventh, the McLaren GT factory favourite admitting that he just couldn’t take the fight to the leaders.

“To be honest it was frustrating, and I’m going to just say it – it was super unfair, because sector one and sector three, we had absolutely no chance compared to other manufacturers,” a visibly frustrated Parente admitted. “Normally I never complain or ever comment about the BoP (Balance of Performance) but I think that anyone that understands motorsport saw it, but anyway, considering all the time we lost in sector one and sector three, I’m happy with my performance this weekend, I couldn’t do any more.”

Former GT Asia Series front-runner Marchy Lee was eighth on his debut with the new Audi R8 LMS, just clear of 2015 GT Asia Series runner-up Keita Sawa.

“I was looking for a top ten, because I felt we just didn’t have the pace this weekend,” the multiple GT Asia Series race winner admitted. “The car was great, which gave me more confidence, but I didn’t feel like I was capable of making the top five this year. It’s a pity the race ended early, I might have been able to gain another position late in the race, but it’s okay, I’m happy with the result.”

Pasin Lathouras crossed the line in tenth position, whilst for Andre Couto, his tough weekend in the FFF McLaren came to a premature end after throttle failure on top of the hill on the final competitive lap, the local hero hit by Jacky Yeung in the #77 Bentley.

“I saw him and got on the brakes hard, but just clipped him,” Yeung explained post race.

The FFF team admitted that Couto had lost all power on the run up San Francisco and had no throttle, coming to a stop with no way of moving, much to the frustration of Yeung who himself was having a solid run despite having been out of the seat for almost four months.

Ultimately though Couto was credited with 11th place after officials declared the race at 14-laps, with the circuit blocked at Moorish Hill, whilst GT Asia regulars Jeffrey Lee, Mok Weng Sun, John Shen, Philip Ma and Yeung were classified in positions 12 through 16.

Gulf Racing JP Porsche star Dylan Dedaele was a late race casualty, the Belgian GT star and GT Asia Series GTM class round winner stopping at Lisboa with a suspected driveline failure after just seven laps.

Whilst Derdaele failed to finish, he at least made a start, unlike Bentley’s Adderly Fong who was forced to endure the race from pit lane after his #8 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental was withdrawn on Saturday night thanks to contact with the barriers during the qualifying race.

“I had a bit of emotion and a bit of nerves coming into a home race, but after seeing what we could do in practice and qualifying it gave me hope,” Fong explained. “The [qualifying] race pace was good, from lap one the car was on it so I was pushing and I got past Darryl [O’Young] and Earl [Bamber] whilst they were fighting each other, and I saw I was catching Lyons so I took risks and was on the limit and scraped the car on both sides but unfortunately on top of the hill I was just an inch too close and I hit the barrier. I tried to save the car but there was a bump where I counter-steered which shot me across to the inside wall which unfortunately punched the wishbone through the chassis and bent slightly the front sub-frame, so we couldn’t repair it overnight which was a huge pity.”

For many of the GT Asia Series regulars, Macau represents the end of the season, with a long break until the opening round of the 2016 season, which is expected to begin in April. Keep an eye on the GT Asia Series website – http://www.gtasiaseries.com – and the Facebook page; http://www.facebook.com/GTAsiaSeries for details of the new calendar which will be released very soon.

2015 Macau Grand Prix
SJM Macau GT Cup – FIA GT World Cup (22 November, 2015)
1. 1. Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy SLS AMG GT3) – 14-laps
2. 7. Rene Rast (Audi Sport Team Pheonix Audi R8 LMS GT3)
3. 97. Stefan Mucke (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3)*
4. 2. Renger van der Zande (Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy SLS AMG GT3)
5. 55. Darryl O’Young (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3)*
6. 6. Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Pheonix Audi R8 LMS GT3)
7. 25. Alvaro Parente (FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren GT3)*
8. 30. Marchy Lee (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3)
9. 88. Keita Sawa (Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3)*
10. 10. Pasin Lathouras (AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
11. 5. Andre Couto (FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren GT3)*
12. 33. Jeffrey Lee (Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3)*
13. 3. Mok Weng Sun (Clearwater Racing McLaren 650S GT3)*
14. 68. John Shen (Modena Motorsport Porsche GT3-R)* – 13-laps
15. 98. Philip Ma (Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)* – 13-laps
16. 77. Jacky Yeung (Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3)* – 13-laps
17. 9. Vuttihkorn Inthraphuvasak (Est Cola Racing Porsche GT3-R) – 12-laps
DNF. 20. Dylan Derdaele (Gulf Racing JP Porsche GT3-R)* – 7-laps
DNF. 19. Earl Bamber (LKM Racing Porsche GT3-R)* – 1-lap
DNF. 15. Kevin Estre (FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren GT3)* – 0-laps
DNF. 99. Richard Lyons (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3)* – 0-laps
DNS. 8. Adderly Fong (Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3)*
* GT Asia Series regulars

Source. Motorsport Media


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