ONE of the regular stars of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour won the FIA GT World Cup in strange circumstances at the weekend.
Belgian ace Laurens Vanthoor – who has starred for Audi on the Mountain in the past – won the annual season-ending GT event at Macau despite ending the second race upside-down.
Vanthoor won Saturday’s qualifying race to put him in the best position to win the Cup-deciding finale on Sunday, the main precursor to the iconic Macau Grand Prix held each year.
However a mistake on the fifth lap of the final race saw his Audi R8 LMS tipped into a series of high-speed rolls at the Mandarin corner, one of the quickest on the track. The car mounted the armco barrier and was sent skywards, Vanthoor fortunately emerging unscathed from the accident.
With the race red-flagged and unable to be restarted, the results were backdated one lap – leaving an astonished Vanthoor the victor despite bringing out the red flag that ended the race.
He took the podium ahead of Porsche’s Kevin Estre and defending FIA GT World Cup champion, Maro Engel – another B12hr hero.
“Physically, I am okay. Everything is fine,” Vanthoor told Sportscar365.com.
“It is just one of the nastiest corners to have a crash and then doing the whole straight on the roof and seeing the other cars coming is not really describable.
“A scary memory in my mind, but as I said, everything is okay. I think if you go back two laps before the crash, I would have deserved the win. I am not saying that I was going to win, but I had the potential for it.
“Now, officially, I have won it, but the way it happened is very strange and I don’t really know if I have deserved in a way.
“I crashed and I have made a mistake, but I am still the winner. That is very awkward. It would have been a better show without the crash for everybody. It is a victory, but I don’t know where to put it in my head.”
The bizzare race only had one lap of green-flag running following an early Safety Car – and a suspended race – when Australian racer Ricky Capo crashed his BMW, damaging the fence on the main straight.
The restart saw Kiwi racer Earl Bamber attempt a move to take the lead from Vanthoor, only for the Audi to his a Kerb and crash moments later. Bamber had been trying to gap the field after being penalised five seconds for blocking Engel following the race start.
The race was called under time-certain conditions, leading to the remarkable sight of Vanthoor on the podium moments after being on his roof.
Vanthoor, amongst others, will now head to Sepang in Malaysia for the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge – a series he leads following races at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and the Spa 24 Hours.