The legendary Macau Grand Prix is known as the prestigious finale of the international GT racing season. In 2017, the race at the narrow street circuit in the city had FIA GT World Cup status for the third time – and for the second time already, the title goes to Mercedes-AMG: Maro Engel having been successful with the SLS AMG GT3 in 2015, this year, Edoardo Mortara crowned himself as the GT3 champion. The Italo-Swiss, who raced for the Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy, showed a faultless performance throughout the weekend with fastest times in practice, the fastest qualifying lap, victory in the qualification race on Saturday and the title-winning success in the main race on Sunday. In Macau, Maro Engel (GER) and Daniel Juncadella (ESP) were equally strong, following in third and eighth place. Raffaele Marciello also put in a strong performance on his Macau debut with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, but remained unrewarded in the feature race. The Italian had to park his car following a collision in the opening stages.
With a close qualifying result on Friday, the teams with the cars from Affalterbach already laid the foundation for the success: the four Mercedes-AMG GT3 locked out the top positions of the time sheets, so that they were able to start the qualifying race on Saturday from the first two rows on the grid. A considerable advantage as three of the four Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the front of the field managed to stay out of a massive accident on the opening lap that took 16 cars out of the race, including Daniel Juncadella’s car with starting number 50. After the restart with only eight cars, Mortara drove an undisputed victory home out in front and thus secured pole position for the main race. Raffaele Marciello moved up from fourth to third place. Maro Engel, on the other hand, had bad luck: during the restart from first place, he was halted by a technical failure and crossed the finish line in eighth place.
In the feature race on Sunday, rain in the morning added to the excitement. At a drying track, however, the drivers took maximum risk from the very beginning and staged thrilling position fights. In the process, Marciello initially improved to second, but had to park his car early due to consequential damage after contact. Up front, Mortara displayed all his class and quickly pulled clear from the rest of the field. A pair of safety car interventions also left Mortara unfazed on his way to victory. From eighth on the grid, Engel showed impressive progress: driving the #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the striking Linkin Park livery, he made up one place after another and crossed the finish line in third. Juncadella, who had also worked his way up, had to make a pit stop after contact and finished the race in eighth place.
By winning the FIA GT World Cup title, Mortara underlined his reputation as ‘Mister Macau’, having already been successful on the street circuit in Formula 3 (2009, 2010) and also having scored GT3 race wins in Macau from 2011 until 2013.
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy: “I had a perfect race weekend. We were quick and we also had a little bit of luck yesterday, but we didn’t make any mistakes. The engineers have done a great job. The set-up of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was simply perfect. Nevertheless, it wasn’t easy as conditions were very changeable today. A mistake could have happened easily. But eventually, we won and I am super happy!”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing: “ This is a fantastic team result. My thanks go out to the entire Mercedes-AMG crew and the Mercedes-AMG GruppeM Racing for which I raced here. Congratulations to Edoardo and the Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy on this victory. I am happy with third place, but I am also slightly disappointed as more was in store for me. After the problems in the qualification race, I had to start from P8 and today, I put my heart and soul into this race to make the impossible happen. I have tried everything and on a wet track I was able to make up positions, but as the track dried out, overtaking became more and more difficult.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “It was an incredible race from the first to the very last second, especially when considering the conditions in which racing at the highest level took place here. We have seen many overtaking manoeuvres, which for Macau is rather unusual. I would like to thank the two teams that ran our cars for making this great achievement happen. I am really delighted that all four cars were among the front runners and fully competitive throughout the weekend.”