Three-time GT winner at the Macau Grand Prix Edoardo Mortara (Mercedes AMG Driving Academy GT3) won the qualifying race for the FIA GT World Cup after the first leg was halted by a multi-car accident at Police bend.
Three quarters of the GT field was caught up behind a total track blockage, sparked when Mortara’s teammate Daniel Juncadella hit the wall while in fourth place on the opening lap.
Mortara’s win has set up massive anticipation as GT teams from seven makes work overnight to prepare their cars for the World Cup.
Only eight cars survived the incident to complete the time-certain qualifying event after a lengthy delay.
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Mortara (above) won, 1.5s clear of Augusto Farfus ( Schnitzer BMW M6) and 2.7s ahead of Raffaele Marciello ( Gruppe M Mercedes-Benz AMG).
In further drama, inaugural FIA GT World Cup champion Maro Engel – who had forged to the lead from the second row – was unable to immediately fire up his Gruppe M Mercedes-AMG on the restart, finishing eighth, one lap down.
The rolling start of the 12-lap qualifying race held great promise as the four Mercedes-Benz which had locked out the first two rows fanned out across the track. But Juncadella, winner of Macau’s F3 race in 2011, went slightly wide, kissing the safety fence with the right rear of his car.
Engel took the lead from Mortara while Farfus, fortunately, sprinted up from sixth to third as the field climbed the Guia Hill .
Juncadella fell into fourth with Marciello closely challenging ahead of defending GT World Cup champion Laurens Vanthoor (Craft Bamboo Porsche GT3R).
On Police bend on the run down toward the hairpin Juncadella hit the fence, perhaps a result of his earlier incident, and only Marciello was able to squeeze through, collecting minor damage on his vehicle’s side panels.
Behind him Vanthoor slammed into the rear of Juncadella and a chain reaction followed in which all but two cars suffered some damage.
Macau debutante Robin Frijns (Audi Sport WRT R8) counted himself lucky that he had started from 17th after a qualifying crash.
“I was able to avoid most of the incident but still had to choose between hitting a Porsche or the safety barrier,” he said. “I chose the barrier because it seemed softer.”
Frijns, with the minor damage to his car repaired, went on to claim fourth at the restart ahead of Australian Chaz Mostert (FIST Team BMW M6) and Darryl O’Young ( Craft Bamboo Porsche 911 GT3R).
Macau officials have determined the grid for the FIA GT World Cup by allocating the first eight places to the drivers who finished the restarted qualifying event. The remaining grid positions will be allocated according to the order cars were in when they completed the first sector of the first lap, before the incident.
That means Juncadella will start ninth behind Engel and ahead of Laurens Vanthoor, Nico Muller ( Audi Sport Team WRT R8) and Renger van der Zande ( Honda NSX GT3).
The grid composition will test the professionalism of the field as they maneuver for position in the 18-lap (110km) World Cup.