The Macau GT Cup was a tremendously exciting race and Mr Macau reclaimed his title and then some.
The Macau GT Cup was held alongside the GT Asia season finale, running together on track this weekend. A number of GT Asia entrants were in the field. Four of the six Audi entries were also entered for the GT Asia finale. The six Audi R8 LMS / ultra entries are listed below:
The big news this weekend was the return of the reigning two-time Macau GT Cup champion, Edoardo Mortara, in his his #1 Audi R8 LMS Cup backed Audi R8 LMS ultra. He was joined by his teammate, Marchy Lee, in the #38 Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS ultra. Absolute Racing was also present with their regular three-car GT Asia team, along with another private Audi entry from IMS. Absolute Racing, who competed with the team name of "Team R8 LMS Ultra," arrived as the leaders in the GT Asia teams' championship points standings and they were aiming to clinch the title this weekend.
Edoardo Mortara dominated practice on Friday by over two and a half seconds and he continued that form during the first qualifying session with a lap record setting provisional pole position, over half a second clear of the field.
The final qualifying grid was determined by the fastest times from the two qualifying sessions. The second session was dominated by Maro Engel in the Erebus Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3. Mortara was the highest Audi runner and qualified in second position on the grid. His teammate Marchy Lee qualified in eleventh, followed by Jeffrey Lee in seventeenth, Philip Ma in eighteenth, Francis Hideki Onda in twenty-sixth and Shim Ching in thirty-second.
The race itself got underway at 9:20 on Sunday morning and saw Maro Engel in the #36 Mercedes-Benz leading the way as Mortara dropped from second to fourth, being passed by Alexandre Imperatori in the #99 Porsche and Renger van der Zande in the #63 Mercedes-Benz. A massive crash collecting a number of competitors occurred on the first lap, thus prompting the first safety car. The race restarted a few laps later and the top four remained stagnant with another crash bringing out the safety car on the restart lap. Marchy Lee had a good start to the race and had moved up to sixth by the second safety car. The pair of Absolute Racing Audis of Jeffrey Lee and Philip Ma had progressed well up to tenth and eleventh, well poised for the teams' championship title.
The race restarted for a second time and went green to the flag with racing. The top four remained stagnant until the fourth last lap when race leader, Maro Engel, slowed on track. This promoted Mortara up to third. He then managed a brilliant overtaking maneuver to take second away from van der Zande in the infield section of the track. Mr Macau then had two laps to try and pass Alexandre Imperatori in the Porsche for the lead.
Traffic came into play coming out of the hairpin on the penultimate lap and Mortara was able to grab the lead as chaos broke out behind him. Mortara continued to lead as Imperatori collected van der Zande going into Lisboa. Mr Macau continued to lead and brought his #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra home for his third consecutive Macau GT Cup victory, finishing ahead of Watts' McLaren and Imperatori's Porsche. Mortara also set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, a 2:19.550, the only driver to drop into the 2 minute 19 second bracket during the race. Mr Macau had it all do and he was able to recover from fourth to first for victory. Marchy Lee rounded out the top four in fourth, ensuring that two Audis finished within the top four. Jeffrey Lee and Philip Ma rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively. Francis Hideki Onda finished seventeenth and Shim Ching unfortunately retired.
It was another terrific Macau Grand Prix weekend for the Audi entrants. This win for Mortara also marked his sixth straight victory at Macau, as he had won the previous five races that he had been entered for: the 2009 and 2010 Macau Formula 3 races, the 2011 and 2012 Macau GT Cup and the 2013 Audi R8 LMS Cup round at Macau. Edoardo Mortara continues to deserve his title of “Mr Macau”.
Photo credit: RacerLink [Sean Henshelwood]
By Johan Laubscher