Belgian Laurens Vanthoor emerged victorious after a dramatic and shortened SJM Macau GT Cup – FIA World Cup yesterday on Macao’s 6.2km Guia street circuit, claiming the FIA Manufacturer title for Audi. Second behind the Audi Sport Team WRT was Kévin Estre in the Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3R (991), with defending champion Maro Engel taking the final podium spot for Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy.
Winner of the non-manufacturer entries was Bentley Team Absolute driver Adderly Fong, with Rowe Racing’s Nicky Catsburg second in the BMW F13 M6 GT3, and Fabian Plentz in an Audi R8 LMS third.
Vanthoor led the field away from pole at the rolling start, with the Manthey Racing Porsche duo of Bamber and Estre in hot pursuit, the former making contact with Engel in the melee. Bamber was handed a five second penalty for the incident, which eventually cost him a podium finish.
The action had just got underway when the Safety Car was called out on Lap 2 after Ricky Capo crashed at Fishermen’s. After circulating behind the Safety Car for two further laps, the race was suspended.
At the restart, Bamber got past Vanthoor and charged into the lead. However, as Vanthoor followed him through Mandarin, he clipped the apex curve and hit the barrier, which dramatically launched the car into the air, landing on its roof and skidding down the straight. Vanthoor emerged unscathed, and was able to climb out of the upside down Audi without assistance. The race was suspended and not restarted, with the results declared after four laps.
Having won the race despite the crash, Vanthoor was asked yesterday how he felt about his victory. “I’ve officially won it but the way it happened was very strange,” said the driver. “I made a mistake and I’m a winner. That’s very awkward.”
Said podium finisher Engel: “I’m really, really proud of my team and how they fought hard this week. It was very difficult for us as everyone could see the big gap in top speed to the cars ahead of us, but we tried our very best and I believe did our very best.”
For Fong, the win in the non-manufacturer class was the ideal ending to what has been a successful season for the talented Hong Kong driver: “Yesterday was all the hard work and I just tried to keep it out of the walls this year. Last year I pushed a bit too hard and destroyed the car. The car was quick, Bentley Team Absolute did a great job as usual, and we were fighting with the guys in front.”