Second and third place at the FIA GT World Cup for Porsche works drivers Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber / Perfect teamwork and fastest laps
ROWE RACING brought the curtain down on its first season with Porsche with an impressive display and a double podium on the streets of Macau. Porsche works drivers Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) worked perfectly as a team to finish second and third on their first outing with the team from St. Ingbert at the famous FIA GT World Cup, which took place in the former Portuguese colony of Macau. As they did in Saturday’s qualification race, when the result was the same, they tried everything to win the race. However, they were simply unable to find a way past the new world champion, Raffaele Marciello (Italy), on the spectacular but narrow street circuit in the gamblers’ paradise on the southern coast of China. The fastest car in Macau was the ROWE RACING Porsche 911 GT3 R: Two-time Le Mans winner Earl Bamber set the three fastest laps of the 18-lap race.
Vanthoor and Bamber, who are not only team-mates but also best friends and won the title in the GTLM class of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America together, once again worked perfectly together in the first race of the year, in which they have not been sharing the same car. Vanthoor made the better start in the #99 Porsche 911 GT3 R, passing Bamber in the #98 car to move into second place. The New Zealander defended third place against last year’s winner Augusto Farfus. Together, the two Porsche works drivers then put pressure on the leader, with Vanthoor hot on his heels after an early safety car phase. Bamber briefly lost third place to Farfus after the re-start, but regained the final podium position just a few hundred metres later with a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre in the Lisboa bend.
When Vanthoor was unable to find a way past Marciello, he allowed his friend to pass him on lap 13. Bamber then proceeded to try everything in his power to pass the Italian at the head of the field. He set several fastest lap times in a row and used every millimetre of the track – so much so that he actually lost his left wing mirror to the wall. Because he was ultimately unable to pass Marciello, he allowed Vanthoor back past him with just a few metres of the race remaining. Second place was the Belgian’s best result in Macau since he won there in 2016. Bamber finished third to take his place on the podium for the first time, having previously finished fourth on two occasions. Second and third place makes this by far the best result for ROWE RACING on the team’s third appearance in Macau.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, Team Principal ROWE RACING: “First of all, congratulations to Raffaele Marciello on a flawless race. Above all, however, I would like to say a big thank you and pay a huge compliment to Laurens and Earl for their fantastic performances. It was a crazy race and an absolutely top performance all weekend. It was a great honour for our team to be able to work with drivers like them, for whom the priority was to achieve success for the team. It was great fun. Thank you to Porsche for giving us the opportunity to attend such a mega event at the end of our first year together, and to be in contention for the win right down to the final metre. In the end, we did not miss out on the World Cup title by much. However, we fly home from Macau happy after two podiums at this remarkable race.”
Laurens Vanthoor, #99 ROWE RACING Porsche 911 GT3 R: “Earl and I tried everything to finally bring home the first Macau victory for Porsche. We were really not far off. I got off the line better than Earl and managed to pass him. I then went all-out for the lead spot but had no real chance to overtake. I knew that Earl is really fast here. That’s why I let him pass me. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to fight for the victory either. It’s a shame but we all worked perfectly as a team and tried absolutely everything.”
Earl Bamber, #98 ROWE RACING Porsche 911 GT3 R: “That was an exciting and intense race. Our car was really fast, particularly in the corners. Unfortunately we had no chance to overtake on the straights. Our team worked perfectly together. After Laurens had tried everything to get past the leader, he let me past to have a go and I tried as well to the flag. We weren’t far off, I was on the bumper of the leading car but there was just no way past. Unfortunately, we have to wait for our first Macau victory, but podium spots aren’t bad either.”