Audi has swept the overall podium, with a Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 1-2 in Saturday’s weather-impacted Sepang 12 Hours.
Laurens Vanthoor took the No. 17 Audi R8 LMS to a 8.3-second victory over teammate Christopher Mies, following a final hour showdown between the two drivers that went the way of the Belgian driver.
A fuel-only final stop for the No. 150 Audi put Mies out ahead of Vanthoor, but the 2014 Blancpain GT Series champion — in his race return following a fractured hip and leg — clawed back a 12-second deficit in less than 20 minutes.
Vanthoor passed Mies for the lead with 40 minutes to go to give he and co-drivers Stephane Oretelli and debutant Stuart Leonard top honors in the first edition of the Malaysian enduro run by the SRO Motorsports Group.
“We needed to keep it fair,” Vanthoor said on his pass with teammate Mies. “I knew I need [to do it then] because I would have been stuck behind. it was close. I couldn’t see all the time but I made the pass and brought it home.
“I couldn’t wish for abetter comeback. Especially for my dear friend [Stephane] Ortelli, as it’s his last race with WRT Audi.”
Mies, Christopher Haase and Enzo Ide crossed the line in second but are subject to a review of the car’s final pit stop, where an additional crew member may have been working on the car.
The No. 16 Phoenix Audi of Markus Winkelhock, Nicki Thiim and Nicki Mayr-Melnhof completed the podium in third after fading in the late stages.
While Audi claimed a podium sweep for its new-generation GT3 contender, weather was the story of the day, with two red flags — totaling more than 2 hours and 30 minutes — called due to heavy rain, which arrived in the fourth hour.
Additionally, more than an hour of the race was also run under the safety car due to the conditions, which also saw lightning hit near the track.
The No. 55 FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren 650S GT3 of Alvaro Parente, Andrea Caldarelli, Andrew Watson
and Hiroshi Hamaguchi finished fourth overall, claiming victory in the GT3 Pro-Am Cup.
Bentley Team M-Sport, meanwhile, managed to get one of its Continental GT3s into the top-five, in what turned into a challenging run for the British squad making its Malaysian debut.
It was a race to forget for the pole-sitting Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, which retired after multiple incidents, including contact with a Lotus that took Gianmaria Bruni out of the lead early.
GTC class honors went to the No. 23 TopSpeed Racing Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan of Mohamad Afiq Ikhwan Bin Mohamad Yaz, James Munro, Martin Rump and Yuan Bo.