A week after taking his fifth race win on the streets of Macau with victory in the Audi R8 LMS Cup Edoardo Mortara took a first step towards a third win in the City of Dreams Macau GT Cup by topping the first qualifying session.
The DTM regular, dubbed Mr. Macau due to his phenomenal record on the track, topped the session with a time of 2:19.774 in his Audi R8 LMS.
Now in its sixth year the GT race – part of the Macau Grand Prix weekend – sports a more varied grid than ever with nine manufacturers represented on the grid, seven of which ended the session in the top ten.
Mortara’s lap was six tenths faster than that of Maro Engel, leading the pair or Erebus Motorsport run Mercedes SLS GT3, with Renger van der Zande third fastest when the session was brought to a premature halt by a red flag when Tunku Hammam Sulong crashed his Lamborghini on the back of the circuit.
It was not the first red flag in the session, an earlier interruption coming for a combination of Pasin Lathouras’ spin after the sweeping Mandarin Bend and a collision between Marchy Lee and Stefan Mucke, the German driving one of two Craft Racing AMR GT3 Vantages in the race, the other driven by AMR managing director John Gaw.
When the session restarted first van der Zande then Engel toppled early polesitter and 2013 Carrera Cup Asia champion Earl Bamber, the Kiwi eventually ending the session fifth fastest a second slower than his predecessor as champion in the series Alexandre Imperatori, returning to Macau after finishing second to Mortara last year.
Jorg Muller, twice a Macau winner in the WTCC, was sixth fastest in his BMW Z4 GT3 ahead of Lamborghini driver Keita Sawa, Mucke, Takeshi Tsuchiya and Danny Watts, the Briton tenth fastest in the best of the two United Autosports run McLaren MP4-12C.
All drivers will have chance to improve their times, and so shuffle the starting order once more, in the second qualifying session, before the race on Sunday, scheduled for between the races of the WTCC season finale.