Shanghai, September 24th, 2017 – Absolute Racing serviced teams made a spectacular return to the podium last weekend collecting two overall and two class podiums at its home track Shanghai during an action-packed and changeable weather conditions weekend of the 2017 Blancpain GT Asia Series season.
Saturday’s qualifying sessions saw OD Racing drivers qualify inside the top six, with Mitch Gilbert securing third on the race one grid and Aditya Patel three place further back, in P6, for the second race.
On Saturday afternoon, the mixed weather conditions played havoc with strategy, leaving the teams facing a difficult tire choice right before the start. Starting with slicks on a wet track, Gilbert who lined up from third position on the grid, posed a challenge for the race win, handing the car over to his team-mate Patel in first.
However the OD Racing team had a real fright on the following lap as the Indian misjudged the final corner, ran wide on to the still-wet astroturf and completed a full 360-degree spin in the straight line. Patel came away unscathed but eventually he lost the led and had to settle for second position.
Persistent rain forced the Sunday race to start under Safety Car conditions before competitive action began after two laps. Patel managed well the start, quickly making light work of the competition in challenging wet conditions to move up into fifth, handing over to Gilbert shortly before the thirty minute mark. The Australian racer picked up the challenge and put in an excellent stint – managing to make up two places, crossing the finish line in third.
With two races to go in the season, Gilbert and Patel are now lying third in the championship standings, 28 points behind the leaders with a maximum of 50 points at stake. The OD Racing duo is also second in the GT3 Silver Cup class.
J-Fly by Absolute Racing drivers Alessio Picariello and Jeffrey Lee were left with mixed emotions on Saturday. Recently crowned Audi R8 LMS Cup Champion, Picariello maintained his top form in Qualifying 2 by notching up his third Blancpain GT Series Asia pole in four outings.
But it wasn’t a perfect Saturday for the Pro-Am duo. Round 9 of the season was shorter than expected for the Audi Taiwan sponsored R8 LMS as Lee and Picariello were forced to retire with seven laps to go, when they were running in point scoring places.
On Sunday Picariello took the opening stint of the second race. The Belgian driver led away from pole and remained there throughout his opening stint. Unfortunately a Full Course Yellow period put paid to J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s victory hopes. Picariello hadn’t made his stop by the time racing resumed, a decision that came back to haunt the team when Lee returned to action in fifth.
On tricky conditions, Lee held on strongly on his stint, eventually crossing the finish line in eleventh overall, third in the GT3 Pro-Am class. Despite the Saturday’s race setback Lee maintains the third position in the GT3 Pro-Am class championship standings.
Milestone Racing also left its mark on the event. Saturday’s qualifying sessions delivered positive results for the blue Audi. Sun Jingzu qualified 13th for the first race, while Franky Cheng CongFu staked his claim on a second row start for race two, slotting his #13 Audi R8 LMS into P4.
At a track where the Shanghai-based team has always had an excellent set-up in any category, Sun and Cheng had driven a faultless 60-minute Saturday race on tricky conditions. The Chinese duo finished tenth overall, and P4 in the GT3 Pro-Am Class.
On Sunday, Cheng did the start and kept tight the fourth place overall throughout his stint, moving up to second place before handing the car over. However Milestone Racing was also harmed by the Full Course Yellow period, dropping four places in the order. Less-experienced Sun lost a few positions to the Pro drivers but he didn’t disappoint the team, crossing the finish line in fourth of the GT3 Pro-Am, claiming the best combined race weekend result of the season so far for Milestone Racing.
Team Manager, Michael Schneider said, “All in all a pretty good weekend for the team. With two overall podiums from OD Racing we closed down the gap to the championship leader to 24 points, which keeps our chances for the championship alive for the last round. J-Fly by Absolute also scored some very important points on Sunday race and is just three points behind the first runner-up in the GT3 Pro-Am class. The only downside of the weekend was on Sunday race when Alessio and Franky were leading the race and it got compromised by a “Full Course Yellow” during the pitstop. We lost precious time and perhaps a sensational result in the Blancpain series…”
Meanwhile, Bentley Team Absolute made its Blancpain GT Asia Series debut in Shanghai and stood on the Pro-Am class podium after Adderly Fong and Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak finished in second place in Race 1.
Absolute Racing serviced teams now has a month break for final preparations before the season’s conclusion at the Zhejiang International Circuit on October 21/22.