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FIA GT World Cup

Muecke Beats Engel to Macau Qualification Race Victory

Aston Martin driver wins first race at Macau GP…

Photo: Jun Qian

Photo: Jun Qian

Aston Martin Racing works driver Stefan Muecke took an important step towards winning the FIA GT World Cup with a victory in today’s Qualification Race on the streets of Macau.

Driving the No. 97 Craft Bamboo Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Muecke held off the challenge from Maro Engel in the No. 1 Mercedes AMG Driving Academy Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 at the start and managed to stay out in front until the finish after 12 laps.

“I am really happy. The team gave me a perfect car. To be honest, I am slightly surprised that I have won, because I have the feeling that am still learning the track. After all, it is only my second time here. I am getting better and better every session,” Muecke said.

“My start was good and then after the safety car intervention, I tried to have a little gap before T3 at the restart, because being that is he key here. Our chances for tomorrow are good: it is good to be on the inside tomorrow, starting from pole position, but we have seen that the Mercedes did a great start today.”

Muecke finished 1.697s ahead of Engel, who jumped the No. 6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS of Edoardo Mortara at the start, but was unable to pass his fellow countryman.

“Being on the inside line is quite helpful and we know that our cars have a lot of torque, so that worked out well, but after that, it was difficult to make a move on Stefan. He was really strong, I have to give that to him,” Engel said after the race.

“I was happy tat the safety car came in, because restarts provide chances. I wasn’t too happy about Stefan’s restart, though, because he accelerated, then braked again and I had to take avoiding action. I was surprised that the braked again and according to me, that was not too nice.”

Five-time Macau winner Edoardo Mortara finished in third place at 6.909s from race winner Muecke. Despite finishing on the podium of the Qualification Race, the Italian feels it will be near-impossible to win the Main Race on Sunday.

“We keep the chance to try to win this race tomorrow because you need to be in the top 4 to do so, but it feels that we are in a different league in terms of power, especially on the section from from the Hairpin to Lisboa, but also the uphill part in the city,” Mortara said.

“There, I can’t keep up with (the Mercedes), the difference is simply too big. My race was basically over in turn 1 when Maro overtook me. I couldn’t really keep up with him, and of course, I didn’t want to take too much risk.”

Dutchman Renger van der Zande kept Mercedes’ dreams of a 1-2 victory in the FIA GT World Cup alive with a fourth place finish, just a couple of tenths of a second ahead of Audi Sport Team WRT’s René Rast.

Craft Bamboo drivers Richard Lyons and Darryl O’Young took sixth and eighth with their Aston Martin Vantage GT3s, with Le Mans winner Earl Bamber finishing in between the two Aston Martin drivers.

The race was neutralized on lap three, after Adderly Fong crashed the No. 8 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3. After six laps behind the safety car it was restarted for four more laps at full speed.

RESULTS: Qualification Race

Rene de Boer contributed to this report

Marcel ten Caat (@marceltencaat) is a contributor to Sportscar365 and other publications including Autosport.nl.

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