Cool Mortara takes charge in Macau
1 January 1901
Edoardo Mortara has earned himself pole position for the 55th Macau Grand Prix after fighting his way back to victory in a destructive qualifying race.
The Italian avoided a carnage-filled opening lap to catch and pass early leader Kaisuke Kunimoto before romping away to a comfortable victory
Giving Mortara a good chance of returning Volkswagen back to the top of the Macau podium for the first time since a certain Michael Schumacher back in 1990, the Signature-Plus driver slotted into second place at the start behind the Kunimoto, but ahead of pole sitter Carlo Van Dam, who bogged down.
The pole sitting Dutchman's bad luck was just starting though as he found himself on the receiving end in one of several first lap clashes that eliminated several fancied runners.
Kicking off when Roberto Merhi stalled on the grid, a collision between James Jakes and Brendon Hartley delayed several drivers at the first corner, including Max Chilton who went on to out-brake himself heading to Lisboa and crash out.
They weren't the only victims though with Jules Bianchi tangling with the Hitech Racing cars, Cheng Cong Fu and Atte Mustonen, while Renger van der Zande was also eliminated after being collected by an ailing Van Dam.
With the safety car out to clear the wreckage, it was Kunimoto that shook out in the lead of the race, the Tom's Toyota driver resisting the pressure from Mortara to lead his first ever Macau race.
Roberto Streit moved up to third position, ahead of the British pair Oliver Turvey and Sam Bird, Turvey getting ahead of his countryman when Bird made a failed attempt at passing Streit.
British F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari was up to sixth position, ahead of the fast starting Mika Maki, who had avoided the chaos to move from 14th to seventh. Stefano Coletti, Marcus Ericsson and Kazuya Oshima rounded out the provisional top ten.
With the typically chaotic first lap completed, the race settled into a relative procession, with only Mortara seemingly threatening a change of position as he tailed Kunimoto.
Indeed, while the Japanese driver made a brief sprint after the restart, Mortara quickly reeled him in and after latching onto his slipstream at the start of lap seven, the strength of the Volkswagen engine simply propelled him past Kunimoto and into the lead heading down to Lisboa.
Mortara needed no invitation to make his bid for victory as he quickly moved away from Kunimoto, who in turn was under pressure from Streit now.
Nonetheless, the top three remained unchanged to the chequered flag, Mortara easing up towards the end to win by just over a second and secure what could be an all-important pole position for the Grand Prix tomorrow. As well as winning for Volkswagen, Mortara is bidding to become the first Italian to win the classic race since Enrico Bertaggia 20 years ago.
Kunimoto and Streit ensured that three different engine manufacturers would be represented on the podium, while Turvey, Bird and Alguersuari followed in fourth, fifth and sixth places.
Coletti, meanwhile, enjoyed a strong performance in seventh for Prema Powerteam, ahead of one of the race's youngest competitors Ericsson. Daniel Campos-Hull and Kei Cozzolino completed the leading positions, although their cause was aided on the final lap when Maki limped across the line minus a tyre.
Elsewhere, Hartley rejoined the race to record the fastest lap, while James Winslow and Jon Lancaster flew the flag for Great Britain in 11th and 14th positions respectively.