***Laurens Vanthoor’s heavy opening lap accident in Saturday’s Qualifying Race has ruled the No. 911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R out of the remainder of the FIA GT World Cup weekend due to chassis damage. It marks the Belgian’s second consecutive weekend-ending accident in the Qualifying Race at Macau.
***Vanthoor said he was “hit very badly” by the No. 1 GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Edoardo Mortara as he was attempting to make a three-wide pass entering Mandarin. “It was a pretty nasty hit, and at that place, the whole field was coming at high speeds. It was really unpleasant,” Vanthoor told Sportscar365.
***The incident was put under review by officials post-race, with Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser stressing it “has to be looked at closely.” “Laurens was pushed into the wall through no fault of his own… It’s incredibly annoying,” Walliser said.
***Augusto Farfus, who claimed a dominant victory in the 12-lap Qualifying Race, said the win felt extra special for it being Charly Lamm’s final weekend in his role as team principal at Schnitzer. The Brazilian won in his BMW debut with Schnitzer in 2007 in the Curitiba FIA WTCC race.
“It’s an honor for me to drive for him and it’s an even bigger honor to have him as a really true friend and mentor,” Farfus said. “That’s why this race for me has a special meaning. We’re a small team here, a very strong team working really hard. Hopefully tomorrow we can have the same smile on our face.”
***As a result of the win, Farfus will start Sunday’s 18-lap race from pole, with the finishing positions in the Qualifying Race setting the grid for the GT World Cup title decider.
***Third place finisher Maro Engel said the BMW M6 GT3’s strength in top speed has made it difficult for the Mercedes to overtake, with the three GruppeM Racing entries unable to utilize its advantage in the ‘mountain’ section of the 3.8-mile circuit.
***Mercedes entries finished second through fourth on Saturday, with no team orders or specific strategy planned, according to the inaugural GT World Cup champion. “I think whoever can find a way past is going to give it a try,” Engel said.
***Nissan’s mid-event Balance of Performance break didn’t play a factor, with Alexandre Imperatori the highest-placed Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in tenth, finishing nearly 30 seconds behind race winner Farfus.
***The No. 23 KCMG entry of Tsugio Matsuda failed to make it off the grid, with smoke billowing from the Hong Kong-entered GT3 contender, while the No. 55 Craft-Bamboo Racing Porsche of Darryl O’Young, which underwent a pre-race engine change, finished 13th.
***All four Audi R8 LMS cars made it to the finish unscathed, after left-side damage to three of the factory-supported entries in Free Practice and qualifying left spare parts concerns in the German camp. “Obviously three hits on the left-rear… We shouldn’t have another left-rear [hit]!” Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke told Sportscar365 pre-race.
***Audi is pulling double duty with ten entries in the WTCR race this weekend. Jean-Karl Vernay took his Team WRT Audi RS 3 LMS TCR to victory in Saturday’s Race 1.
***Reinke said the level of factory support to selected teams in WTCR is on a similar level to its commitment in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. “I think it’s comparable from the idea,” Reinke told Sportscar365. “The support on the driver side and engineering and chassis [on both].”
***Christopher Mies set a new overall track record at Bathurst, having turned a 1:59.291 lap time around the Mt. Panorama circuit in testing in preparation for February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour (pictured below). The German’s Audi R8 LMS, however, was running unrestricted and outside of SRO’s Balance of Performance.
***Mies’ lap record, however, has been deemed official since the car was taking part in the CAMS-sanctioned Challenge Bathurst event. The previous lap record was a 2:01.567 held by Shane van Gisbergen from the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour.
***The FIA GT World Cup main race is set for Sunday at 12:25 p.m. (5:25 a.m. CET/Sat. 11:25 p.m. ET), with live streaming available on the FIA’s official YouTube channel.