Mixed bag for Audi as Vanthoor wins Macau qualifying race

by Joe Hudson

Laurens Vanthoor kept his nerve to claim victory in the FIA GT World Cup qualifying race in Macau, but front-row companion Edoardo Mortara spun at the first corner and fell down the order.

With Vanthoor free at the front, after starting in second in his Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS, he focussed his efforts on keeping Manthey Racing’s Earl Bamber and Kevin Estre behind him as just over half the laps were run at racing speed.

That was because of crashes for Nico Muller, Phillip Ma and John Shen which required safety car intervention each time due to the tight and twisty nature of the circuit not allowing for easy recovery of stranded cars.

However, that did help Mortara, who had rear-end damage after his spin in which he somehow missed the rest of the field, as his two pitstops to fix the damage were negated because of how slow the safety car laps were meaning he could come out in 13th place and try and recover positions for tomorrow’s main race.

Unfortunately for him, contact with Craft Bamboo Racing’s Darryl O’Young sent the Hong Kong racer into the wall and earned Mortara a three-place grid penalty for the main race meaning he’ll start in 16th place.

Grid penalties weren’t a concern for Vanthoor who claimed pole position for tomorrow’s World Cup race but Bamber and Estre will loom large in the mirrors of the Audi man without even throwing defending World Cup holder Maro Engel and Mercedes teammate Renger van der Zande into the mix – they’ll start fourth and fifth.

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