Macau GT: Marciello holds off Porsches in qualifying race

Mercedes driver Raffaele Marciello held off Earl Bamber to win the qualification race for the 2019 FIA GT World Cup in Macau.

Macau GT: Marciello holds off Porsches in qualifying race

The 12-lap race got off to a wild start, as Dries Vanthoor fired his Audi into the wall at Mandarin as he tried to get a run on the polesitting Mercedes of Marciello.

The Audi driver's race was effectively done on the spot, and Maro Engel lucky to avoid a similar fate as he brushed the same wall while squabbling over fourth with Edoardo Mortara.

With Vanthoor out of the picture, Marciello spent the first lap with the two Rowe Racing Porsches, Bamber leading Laurens Vanthoor, breathing down his neck. But a reprieve quickly arrived as the Safety Car was called to clear the stricken Audi from Lisboa. 

The race went green again three laps later, but only briefly. As the field filed into the Lisboa braking area Engel couldn't pull up his Mercedes, clipping Kelvin van der Linde's Audi before clattering into the back of an unsuspecting Mortara.

The clean-up lasted until Lap 8, setting up a four-lap battle between Marciello and Bamber. But while the Kiwi was able to shadow the GruppeM Mercedes there was no way past, Bamber forced to settle for second with Vanthoor in third.

"There was no point taking too much of a risk today, tomorrow is the main race," said Marciello. "It's a good starting position, now we just need to finish the job.

"To be in front after the start will be a big part of the job for tomorrow. We need to have a clean start and keep the lead into Lisboa, and then it will be in my control."

Bamber added that the it was a "cat-and-mouse" game between Marciello's Mercedes and his Porsche, the two cars making their speed in different parts of the lap.

"We got a good start, and then it was a bit interesting in Turn 2 with the Audi going off, we had to avoid that," said Bamber.

"We were strong in different places. The Porsche was good at the beginning of the lap, but a bit weak at the end of the mountain section. So it was a bit cat-and-mouse; we'd catch up and then lose a bit. It was a bit neutral."

Defending GT World Cup winner Augusto Farfus finished a fine fourth, coming all the way from 12th on the grid.

The Schnitzer BMW driver was shuffled up the order as Vanthoor, Mortara, Engel and van der Linde had their issues, ending up fifth for the second restart. The Brazilian then executed a textbook move on Christopher Haase's Audi into Lisboa as the race went green.

Haase finished sixth ahead of Alexandre Imperatori's Porsche, Charles Weerts (Audi), Kevin Estre (Porsche), Joel Eriksson (BMW) and Adderly Fong (Mercedes).

Van der Linde was classified 13th, repairs after the contact with Engel leaving him seven laps down.

Race results:

Pos.  No. Driver  Car  Laps Time/Delay
999 Raffaele Marciello Mercedes 12 33'05.753
98 Earl Bamber Porsche 12 0.866
99 Laurens Vanthoor Porsche 12 1.538
42 Augusto Farfus BMW 12 8.744
5 Christopher Haase Audi 12 9.521
911 Alexandre Imperatori Porsche 12 10.377
10 Charles Weerts Audi 12 11.446
912 Kevin Estre Porsche 12 11.720
91 Joel Eriksson BMW 12 14.824
10  7 Adderly Fong Mercedes 12 15.334
11  97 Roelof Bruins Mercedes 12 16.145
12  88 Alessio Picariello Mercedes 12 16.666
13  31 Kelvin van der Linde Audi 5 7 laps
Ret  77 Edoardo Mortara Mercedes 4  
Ret  888 Maro Engel Mercedes 4  
Ret  66 Weian Chen Audi 3  
Ret  25 Dries Vanthoor Audi 0  
Macau GT: Marciello storms to pole for Mercedes
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