GT Series

Mortara Wins Wild Macau GT Cup Encounter

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Mortara emerged victorious after a great battle in the closing stages (Credit: GCS)

Edoardo Mortara drove from fourth to first in the closing stages of a dramatic City of Dreams Macau GT Cup event to score his sixth win on the streets of Macau, his third consecutive victory in the annual event.

Though he started second Mortara was shuffled back to fourth before the field turned into Lisboa for the first time. Pole man Maro Engel got the better of the rolling start to move into the lead in his Mercedes SLS, but Alexandre Imperatori moved past into second after he and Mortara ran side by side through the opening corner before Renger van der Zande used the formidable straight line speed of his SLS to move into third.

Mortara nearly lost further places, both Stefan Mucke and Earl Bamber trying to find a way past under braking of Lisboa’s 90-degree right hander, but the pair only slowed each other, allowing Danny Watts to sneak past before the following corner. There Mucke and Bamber tangled, Bamber’s LKM liveried Porsche shoved into the tyre barriers before bouncing back out into the stream of traffic. While Mucke escaped with minimal damage his Craft Racing AMR teammate John Gaw picked up the worst damage of those following when he clattered into Bamber’s car. Keita Sawa, Takeshi Tsuchiya, Carlo Van Dam and Mok Weng Sun also picked up damage as they tried to avoid the melee, putting them out of the race as the safety car slowed the field to allow clean up after the accident.

It was not the first safety car period. Ro Charlz and Shim Ching both spun and crashed at the first corner, the latter once the safety car had already been scrambled.

When the race restarted the top five – Engel, Imperatori, van der Zande, Mortara and Watts quickly broke away, though there was little movement in position as the quintet remained evenly spaced, save for van der Zande’s repeated attempts to use the Mercedes’ speed to find a way past Imperatori to give Erebus Motorsport first and second.

But while van der Zande’s light flashing attempts to take second repeatedly came to nothing Engel was removed from a comfortable lead, and the race, by a punctured tyre through the Esses.

The following lap, now looking for the lead van der Zande looked to the inside of Imperatori’s Porsche, but as the Hong Kong driver swept across his nose to turn into the corner the loss on momentum allowed Mortara to mount his first meaningful challenge for second which he accomplished with a brave move to the inside of Hospital before starting to pressure Imperatori for the lead with the fastest lap of the race.

Imperatori, who finished to second to Mortara in the race last year initially resisted but a lap 10 tap to the rear to the of the Porsche at the Melco hairpin was a precursor to the pinch point that would setup one of the manic moments of the Macau Grand Prix weekend.

As they approached the Melco Haipin on the penultimate lap the leaders came upon a slower car, the driver almost coming to a halt around the ultra-tight corner. The delay condensed the top four into a nose to tail train on the run down the hill.

Turning into Fishermens – the penultimate corner on the circuit – Mortara again touched the back of the leading Porsche, this time enough to ease him wide, allowing him to take the lead while van der Zande was slowed as Imperatori controlled the slide he was pushed into. That allowed Danny Watts to steal past into second, the fight briefly three wide on the exit of the corner.

Mortara had taken the opportunity, and moved into a lead he was not to give up for the final lap, with Watts second for United Autosports. Imperatori held onto third, though he had to contend with a final assault from van der Zande when the Dutchman tried to go around the outside on the approach to Lisboa. Contact, however, spun the Mercedes into the tyre wall completing a disappointing end to a great weekend for the Erebus Motorsport team.

Marchy Lee finished fourth in his Audi, all be it 20 seconds behind the lead battle. Li Zhi Cong finished fifth with Richard Meins sixth in the second of United Autosports’ Audi. Stefan Mucke, having survived the lap one crash finished in eighth.

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