Edoardo Mortara‘s bid for a seventh win in six years on the streets of Macau is on track after setting the pace in the first GT Cup qualifying session on Friday.
The DTM regular, who has won the GT event for the past three years, was over half a second clear of the opposition with his best lap.
That came despite making contact with the barriers on his first run in the session, damaging his Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
“I was very, very lucky with traffic in my two attempts in the session,” said the 27-year-old Italian. “In the first one, I had no traffic but I managed to put it in the wall which was my mistake and not optimal. We could have already set the benchmark.
“I had to come in put on another set of tyres, which was not planned. Then I went out again and obviously when had I crashed the car it was quite hard so it was quite bent. This is where you see the Audi quality. I crashed very, very hard into the wall but still the car was able to behave pretty normally.
“I’m pretty sure we can go much quicker as I crashed very hard. But tomorrow is another day and different conditions, so you start a little bit from zero.”
An impressive second-quickest was Earl Bamber, who was crowned Porsche Supercup champion a fortnight ago and won in the Asian Carrera Cup in Macau last year.
“It was a fantastic qualifying for us,” said the New Zealander. “It was a bit difficult as we had some traffic in the last sector which cost us, but that’s the game in Macau.
“I think it’s really great to be P2, especially for [sponsor] LKM as it’s their home race. It’s good to be quick but there’s still another qualifying tomorrow so we have to shoot up the car a bit more and work on it. Roll on tomorrow, and we’ll be charging. Or maybe just follow the master!”
Practice pace-setter and 2013 pole-sitter Maro Engel was third in his Mercedes, ahead of second Audi driver and Blancpain GT champion Laurens Vanthoor.
Hong Kong racer Darryl O’Young was again the quickest of the local contingent in P5 in his Craft-Bamboo Aston Martin, followed by BMW’s Augusto Farfus and Engel’s team-mate Renger van der Zande.
Takeshi Tsuchiya was eighth in his Mercedes ahead of fellow Japanese driver and Nissan ace Katsumasa Chiyo, while the top ten was completed by Hong Kong Audi driver Adderly Fong.