The Porsche works driver Earl Bamber from New Zealand and Le Mans outright winner from 2015 secured a good starting position with second place in the qualification race on the legendary 6.115-kilometre city circuit in the former Portuguese colony. Third is occupied by his teammate Kévin Estre (France) in the second Porsche 911 GT3 R run under the direction of Manthey Racing.
The Porsche factory drivers made a perfect start in the twelve-lap fight for pole position. Earl Bamber snatched one position in the first lap to settle into second. Kévin Estre got off the line even better and catapulted from sixth to third place. Because it is difficult to overtake on this unique racetrack with its long straights and a combination of very tight and fast corners, the order at the front stayed the same to the finish. At the restarts after two safety car phases, the Porsche pilots succeeded in defending their positions against strong opposition from Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mercedes.
1. Laurens Vanthoor (B), Audi R8
2. Earl Bamber (NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R
3. Kévin Estre (F), Porsche 911 GT3 R
4. Maro Engel (D), Mercedes GT3
5. Renger van der Zande (NL), Mercedes GT3
6. Adderly Fong (HK), Bentley
7. Nicky Catsburg (NL), BMW M6
8. Fabian Plentz (D), Audi R8
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “That was a somewhat turbulent start to the critical phase here in Macau. Kévin got away brilliantly at the start and now we have a really great starting position for the race. We also came through without any damages, which, as we’ve seen with the safety car phases, is not so easy on this racetrack. Tomorrow it’s all about the World Cup.”
Alex Stehlig, Programme Manager Macau: “That was a great race. We managed to improve on our position from the qualifying. It’s very important to start tomorrow’s race from the first grid row, because tomorrow is what counts. We mustn’t forget that we’re new here and we’re competitive with the 911 GT3 R right from the get-go. If everything goes well we could win the race tomorrow.”
Earl Bamber (911 GT3 R #911): “That was a fantastic race and a little taste of what the fans can expect tomorrow. It’s a great result for Porsche. Obviously I tried to put the leader under pressure but I didn’t want to risk too much. We witnessed just how quickly you can end up hitting the guard rail or wall here. Tomorrow’s race is important and today we’ve secured a good starting position.”
Kévin Estre (911 GT3 R #912): “I’m very pleased with my race. Gaining three positions at the start doesn’t happen often, in fact not at all on this track. Normally there’s only one place to overtake here. I had a bit of a scare at one point when an Audi spun in front of me and I just squeezed past. Other than that everything went well. I’m now looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
In the qualifying on the legendary 6.115-kilometre street circuit, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) posted the third quickest time, his works driver colleague Kévin Estre (France) the sixth. This gives them the best chances to secure a good starting position at Saturday’s qualifying race for the world’s most spectacular city race, which will be contested on Sunday.
The race in the former Portuguese colony, located 65 kilometres west of Hong Kong, is one of the world’s most spectacular motorsport events. The 6.115-kilometre race-track featuring a combination of fast straights and very tight corners, places extremely high demands on pilots. The first automobile race in Macau was contested in 1954. Thanks to tourism and gambling, Macau, which was handed back to China in 1999, has become one of the richest regions in the world.
The New Zealander Earl Bamber, who clinched overall victory at Le Mans for Por sche in 2015, feels totally at home on the racetracks of Asia. In 2013 and 2014 he contested the Carrera Cup Asia series, he lived for a long time in Kuala Lumpur and now lives in Beijing. He raced in Macau for the first time in 2013. His factory driver teammate Kévin Estre (France) won the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland and celebrated his Macau premiere in 2015. This season he secured four race wins with the 911 GT3 R in the ADAC GT Masters.
The customer sport racer was designed in Weissach for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car and contests its maiden race season in 2016. In developing the 911 GT3 R, the engineers placed particular emphasis on light- weight design, better aerodynamic efficiency, a reduction in fuel consumption and improved driveability. Its maiden race outing featuring the new, ultra-modern four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection was in January 2016 at the Daytona 24-hour race. In its debut season, the 911 GT3 R celebrated many successes in international racing series, including the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the World Challenge as well as the Nürburgring VLN Long Distance Championship on the demanding Nordschleife.
The 18-lap race on the Guia Circuit takes off on Sunday at 12:55 hrs local time (05:55 hrs CEST). The event can be seen live on the Website of FIA.
Responsible for the operations of the penultimate factory outing of this year’s GT season – the 12-hour race in Sepang/Malaysia is held on 10 December – is Porsche’s long-standing and successful partner, Manthey Racing.
911 GT3 RS: Combined fuel consumption*: 12,7 l/100 km; Combined CO2-Emission*: 296 g/km