Porsche has finished on the podium at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (China) with two of Rowe Racing’s 911 GT3 R. The works drivers Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) treated fans to a gripping fight in the Chinese metropolis and took the flag in second and third. The identical 500+hp vehicles fielded by Absolute Racing driven by Kévin Estre (France) and Alexandre Imperatori (Switzerland) retired early on the fast street circuit.
At the start of the 18-lap main race, Vanthoor overtook his brand colleague Bamber and then set his sights on the leader. Despite putting in fast lap times, the Belgian found no way past the leading Mercedes. In the twelfth lap, Vanthoor’s IMSA teammate from New Zealand passed him. Bamber put pressure on the eventual winner Raffaele Marciello, posting one record lap after the other and then made one final attempt in the last lap – in vain. Shortly before the flag, Bamber waited for his factory driver teammate to hand a well-deserved second place back to Vanthoor.
Bad luck plagued the Absolute Racing team in the fourth lap of the FIA GT World Cup. During a spirited chase through the field, the world sports car champion Estre crashed into the barrier in the fast Mandarin turn and had to retire. At the same time, his teammate Imperatori was also forced to retire as a result of damage after the two made contact with their 911 GT3 R, which is based on the high performance Porsche 911 GT3 RS* road-going sports car. Until their early retirement, the pair had put in a strong drive with thrilling duels.
Comments on the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Motorsport): “Congratulations to Mercedes. We tried everything, and we had an incredibly fast car for the race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough for Porsche’s maiden Macau win. At the end of the day, it was anything but a bad weekend for Porsche with two podium finishes on Saturday and Sunday. We’re satisfied, but we still have a score to settle in Macau.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Our Porsche 911 GT3 R was the fastest car in the pack. We were able to close the gap to the leader, and we clocked the fastest lap time. Still, there was no way we could overtake on this narrow circuit. Two podium spots are okay. What makes me happy, though, is the fact that all four Porsche 911 GT3 R were fast. We had the performance. And our teams Rowe Racing and Absolute Racing did a terrific job.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #99): “Earl and I tried everything to finally bring home the first Macau victory for Porsche. We were really not far off. I got off the line better than Earl and managed to pass him. I then went all-out for the lead spot but had no real chance to overtake. I knew that Earl is really fast here. That’s why I let him pass me. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to fight for the victory either. It’s a shame but we all worked perfectly as a team and tried absolutely everything.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #98): “That was an exciting and intense race. Our car was really fast, particularly in the corners. Unfortunately we had no chance to overtake on the straights. Our team worked perfectly together. After Laurens had tried everything to get past the leader, he let me past to have a go and I tried as well to the flag. We weren’t far off, I was on the bumper of the leading car but there was just no way past. Unfortunately we have to wait for our first Macau victory, but podium spots aren’t bad either.”
Alexandre Imperatori (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “Unfortunately our race was over early. Kévin touched the rear of my car while overtaking in the Lisboa turn and I hit the barriers on the left. The rear of the car was damaged. I tried for another two laps but I lost a lot of time in the fast corners. It simply didn’t make sense to continue so I had to park the car. It’s a shame, but that’s how it is in Macau: all or nothing. This time it was nothing.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “My start was good and I managed to make up one position. I was then behind my teammate Alex. Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding and our cars made contact while overtaking. My car was fast and I wanted to get ahead. I took a big risk and I overdid it slightly in the Mandarin corner: I hit the inside of the kerb, veered too wide and landed in the barrier – and that was the end.”
1. Raffaele Marciello (I), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 18 laps
2. Laurens Vanthoor (B), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 3.818 seconds
3. Earl Bamber (NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 4.700 seconds
15. Kévin Estre (F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 14 laps
16. Alexandre Imperatori (CH), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 14 laps