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Macau (MAC). Maro Engel (GER) finished third in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau with his Mercedes-AMG GT3. Renger van der Zande (NED) ended up sixth with the second Mercedes-AMG GT3. The highlight to conclude the international GT3 racing season was marked by thrilling action and played out in a peculiar way. During the sixth of the 18 scheduled laps, the race in the Chinese metropolis was interrupted for the second time and not restarted.
From 17 till 20 November, 2016, the 6.1 kilometres long Guia Circuit served as the venue for thrilling GT3 racing. At the narrow street circuit in Macau, both the qualification race and the main event included numerous minor accidents. Largely unfazed, Maro Engel and Renger van der Zande drove their Mercedes-AMG GT3, run by the Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy team, through the narrow streets during the qualification race on Saturday. Engel defended his starting grid position with a spirited drive and concluded the race in fourth place. Van der Zande even managed to make up two positions and crossed the finish line in fifth place. Due to contact with an opponent, the Dutchman was dropped three positions to eighth on the starting grid for the main race.
A peculiar and short main race in Macau
In the main race on Sunday, decisive for the FIA GT World Cup title, both AMG drivers made a good start. Maro Engel, the defending champion and also the 2014 race winner, kept his head down in the turmoil after the start and claimed back the fourth place he had lost for a brief while. With a good start, van der Zande worked his way up into sixth place. On the fourth lap already, the race had to be interrupted due to an accident and could only be resumed after about 60 minutes. After the restart, erstwhile leader Laurens Vanthoor (BEL) was overtaken and then crashed and barrel-rolled his car in a dramatic way. The Belgian got out of the car by himself. After the accident, the race was stopped altogether while the order from the last fully completed lap was used for the classification. Due to a five seconds’ time penalty for Earl Bamber, third place went to Maro Engel. After his victories from 2014 and 2015, the 31-year-old thus scored his third consecutive podium finish in Macau. Renger van der Zande was classified in sixth place.
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy #1: “First and foremost, I am happy that Laurens (Vanthoor) is okay after his accident. I feel sorry for the fans that they didn’t get to see many laps today. Unfortunately, we were lacking some speed throughout the weekend, so we couldn’t really make it to the front. Nevertheless, we tried everything and therefore, I am also very proud of my team that has done a tremendous job in difficult conditions.”
Renger van der Zande, Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy #2: “All in all, we only had two real laps of racing. The two interruptions were very unfortunate. I reckon that some drivers overdid it a bit today. Therefore, it wasn’t a world cup that says a lot. Too bad, because the track here is really cool and I would have loved to move up further to the front.”
Jochen Bitzer, head of AMG Customer Sport: “We knew that defending our title here in Macau would be very difficult and after yesterday’s qualification race, conditions certainly weren’t ideal. Nevertheless, we still believed that we had a slight chance, but due to the way the race played out, there was nothing more we could do. We are happy with Maro’s third place, but, of course, for everyone involved and for the many fans at the track and all over the world, we wanted a race covering the full distance.”
Source: Daimler AG