- Swiss successfully defends FIA GT World Cup title
- Raffaele Marciello wins qualification race from Maro Engel
- Mercedes-AMG unbeaten at Macau since five races
A seven-year cooperation couldn’t have ended in a better way: in the 2023 FIA GT World Cup in Macau, Mercedes-AMG Performance Driver Raffaele Marciello (SUI) had a perfect weekend: pole position with a circuit record on Friday, victory in the qualification race on Saturday and a win in the feature race on Sunday. With his successful title defence at the Guia Circuit, Raffaele Marciello says farewell to Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing. In total, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has been unbeaten at the narrow and fast street circuit in the Chinese special administrative region for five editions of the race. Once again, the manufacturers’ title went to Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing as well.
Saturday: Raffaele Marciello wins qualification race from Maro Engel
In the twelve-lap qualification race on Saturday, Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf’s Raffaele Marciello started from pole position, having established a new circuit record of 2m 14.542s in qualifying. Maro Engel (GER), driving for Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing, qualified third on the grid and made up one place in the opening stages of the race by virtue of a skillful overtaking move in the fast Mandarin corner. Due to accidents further down the field, the safety car was deployed for the first time a few laps later. At the restart, Raffaele Marciello with the #48 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Maro Engel with the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 held on to first and second place. With five laps remaining, the safety car was deployed for the second time due to another accident. Subsequently, race control suspended the race to allow for the barriers being repaired. Once the green flag had been waved again, Raffaele Marciello and Maro Engel remained in control once more. They defended their first and second places until the finish and thus made it a 1-2 for Mercedes-AMG in the qualification race.
Meanwhile, Daniel Juncadella (ESP), who had temporarily been running in fourth place with the #91 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing, was less fortunate. Following an attempt to attack that went wrong, the Spaniard just managed to avoid an impact into the barriers. Daniel Juncadella eventually finished ninth. Jules Gounon (AND) showed a faultless performance, having moved up two positions with the #2 Climax Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to conclude his first-ever race in the streets of Macau in 15th place. Marchy Lee raced a fifth Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by the TORO Racing team. The driver from Hong Kong finished 17th.
Sunday: Raffaele Marciello wins FIA GT World Cup for the second time
Following the 1-2 in the qualification race on Saturday, Raffaele Marciello and Maro Engel started from the front row of the grid for the 16-lap feature race on Sunday to determine the winner of the FIA GT World Cup. Both held on to their positions at the front of the field at the start, leading the high-quality field throughout the opening half of the race. Around the halfway point, race control briefly sent out the safety car due to an accident. At the restart, Raffaele Marciello held on to the lead while Maro Engel dropped to the back of the field because of a technical issue. The German prematurely ended his race in the pits. The problems on Maro Engel’s car gave his fellow AMG driver a comfortable margin of around three seconds over his fiercest rivals. The Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf driver managed this lead to safely bring victory in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau home. At the finish line, he was 2.510s clear of the driver in second place.
The second-best Mercedes-AMG driver at the finish was Daniel Juncadella. The Spaniard improved compared to qualifying and was fifth across the line after a solid race. Macau newcomer Jules Gounon also stayed out of trouble in the feature race and finished 14th. Customer Racing driver Marchy Lee ended up 17th.
“We had a great weekend here in Macau. Being back here and being able to welcome so many fans is fantastic. Thanks to the experience from previous years, our teams were perfectly prepared. From the very first practice session onwards, they excellently set up the Mercedes-AMG GT3s and our drivers convinced throughout. First and foremost Raffaele Marcielo, who concluded a great spell together with this victory. I am really happy that Mercedes-AMG has successfully defended the FIA GT World Cup and that we can bring the trophy to Affalterbach with us.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing
“It was an unbelievable weekend: first in FP1, second in FP2, then pole position and victory in both races. It could hardly have been any better. I more or less had the crew I already worked with here back in 2019. That worked out really well once again. Of course, it was a very emotional race. Already prior to the start, realizing that it is the final race together. That is very special indeed. But in these seven years, we have won almost everything together. This was a crowning end to it.”
Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf #48
“I am happy to be back in Macau after six years. I love this place, it is always a joy to race here. Admittedly, I didn’t come here to finish fifth. But the way the weekend went, I am quite happy with this result. Qualifying didn’t go according to plan, and I started from sixth place. In the qualification race, I was fighting for third place, but then I didn’t get it quite right in a corner and I dropped back to ninth. There wasn’t much more I could do in today’s feature race. From that perspective, fifth place is a good result. Raffaele had an unbelievable weekend. I am happy for him to conclude his time with Mercedes-AMG with a victory at this special track. Congratulations to him and to Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf.”
Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing #91
“Too bad that the weekend ends like this. We were competitive and the car handled well. I would have loved to see whether I would have had a chance at the restart. It looked like a strong second place for us. However, I got stuck in second gear. First of all, congratulations to Raffaele and Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf. They had a fantastic weekend. We were strong, too. It was fun to race the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the streets of Macau again. Huge thanks to Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing.”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing #77