MACAU, China — Despite pressure from Robin Frijns in the closing laps, Edoardo Mortara won Sunday’s FIA GT World Cup race at the Macau Grand Prix. The Swiss driver led from start-to-finish in a dominant performance.
“It was so stressful, this race,” Mortara said. “I mean mixed conditions, it was so so easy to make a mistake. I basically crashed the car in the first corner because I wanted to escape from my competitors. It was very difficult today and I’m very glad that we did it.”
Mortara survived a crash-strewn qualification race on Saturday. Mortara’s teammate Daniel Juncadella got it all wrong at Police Bend, and caused a concertina effect that blocked the track for 45 minutes. The lead four, plus four others that survived the crash with little to no damage completed a 20-minute race to set the grid.
“I got extremely lucky today,” said Mortara of yesterday’s win. “I lost the start, for whatever reason, and I was second behind Maro, so I expected to finish there. Then, unfortunately, Maro [Engel] couldn’t start and I suddenly found myself in the lead.”
“I knew that when I was in front, I could dictate my pace here. There was a lot of oil and some filler to bind the oil, there was some rain, it was very difficult, but I am very glad with this result.”
The race was held in drying conditions, though there were quite a few wet spots around the circuit. Every driver, however, decided to start on slicks. Mortara ran down the circuit to check a wet patch to make sure he wasn’t hindered during the rolling start.
The race began under the safety car, and for the first two laps, the field took the track slowly. Mortara got the jump on Augusto Farfus and Raffaele Marciello, who nearly spun in the wet conditions. Farfus, however, slid into the barriers at Lisboa, allowing Marciello into second. At the end of the first racing lap, Mortara had a large lead over Marciello.
Darryl O’Young and Maro Engel did a bit of argy-bargy through the Solitude Esses, with no real harm done, though it was a bit hairy. Engel got him into Fisherman’s Bend for sixth. At the end of lap four, Mortara had a 6.4-second lead over Farfus, who got second as Marciello pitted with some sort of issue and retired from the race.
Farfus had an issue with the trunklid on his BMW from the first lap incident, though it didn’t slow him down. The safety car came out on lap six as Lucas di Grassi retired his Audi after a shunt at the Solitude Esses. That allowed the field to close up, and Engel would have a great chance at taking the lead, as the fifth-placed driver was lapping quicker than Mortara.
Farfus would have to come in to remove the broken trunklid, promoting Robin Frijns to second position for Audi.
The race got away on lap nine, but Juncadella and O’Young got into it at Lisboa Bend, and then the Spaniard crashed at San Francisco Bend, bringing out the safety car. There were reports of light rain falling on parts of the circuit, but it didn’t really change the race.
Mortara got a jump on Frijns when the race went green on lap 12. Engel and Chaz Mostert collided at Lisboa, with no real damage done, while Farfus got Marco Wittman for fifth at Maternity Bend. Mostert hit the wall in the Solitude Esses with no issues from it.
Farfus got Mostert for fourth on at the end of the 12th lap, and was still pushing hard. Engel was right on Frijns’ tail around the top part of the circuit, but the Audi was able to pull away. Frijns set the fastest lap on lap 14, and began to make inroads on Mortara, who retook fastest lap on lap 15.
Engel grabbed the fastest lap on lap 16 with a 2:21.3 compared to Mortara’s 2:21.4. Engel had closed back up on Frijns in the final laps, but couldn’t get the Audi driver, who broke into the 2:20 mark on lap 17.
Frijns had got the gap to Mortara down to under a second on the last lap, while Engel wasn’t far behind. Mortara held on to win from Frijns, while Farfus recovered from his damage to finish fourth.
Mortara said he thanked his team for the effort that produced the win
“”Amazing job from Mercedes, from the team, the Driving Academy,” he said. “They tried to slow us down, and in the end, we managed it.”
1. Edoardo Mortara
2. Robin Frijns
3. Maro Engel
4. Augusto Farfus
5. Chaz Mostert
6. Marco Wittmann
7. Romain Dumas
8. Daniel Juncadella
9. Hiroki Yoshimoto
10. Nico Muller