Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute’s Weiron Tan and Martin Rump celebrated a superb maiden win during a dramatic Blancpain GT Challenge World Asia weekend of action on Japan’s Fuji International Speedway. Teammates Sun Jingzu and Cheng Congfu scored points in both races.
- Rump and Tan win GT World Challenge Asia Rnd 8 at Fuji
- Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute is back on title track
- Sun and Cheng collect points
On Saturday morning qualifying sessions, Tan Audi Sport Asia driver Tan had clocked the second quickest time in GT3 cars first session, but the Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry was carrying over a five-place grid penalty after an incident in the previous Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia round at Suzuka. That saw Tan drop to seventh for Round 7. Fellow #12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute teammate Rump qualified P5 overall for Round 8, being the fastest of the Silver Cup competitors.
Further back, a tough session for Sun saw him line up at the foot of Mount Fuji in 19th. Cheng placed the blue #13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Audi R8 LMS in tenth for the race two; seventh quickest in the Pro/Am Cup.
When the lights went green on Saturday, Tan was away like a rocket, launching the Audi Sport Asia pair immediately into podium contention. The Malaysian came out of the right-hander in fourth, wheel-to-wheel with the third placed competitor, but backed off as he was squeezed to the edge of the track in the run into turn four. For Tan and Rump, the mid-window pit stop proved key. Rump emerged from the pit lane just ahead of the Absolute Racing Porsche that had led the first half of the race, in third.
The Estonian then got his head down and set his sights on the Ferrari further up the road. Rump overtook his opponent with 22 minutes to go, taking the flag a comfortable second, just half a second behind the winner.
In the second Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry, Sun impressed. The Chinese privateer driver jumped eight places in the first three laps to be running 11th overall, fifth in the Pro/Am class. Teammate Cheng brought the team’s Audi R8 LMS home in 12th, sixth in class.
Starting from P5 for Sunday’s race, Rump kept in touch with the cars in front during his stint as the clock ticked towards the midrace driver change. Tan emerged from the changeover in seventh due to a 10-second Success Penalty for their second place on Saturday. When the safety car was called out with fifteen minutes to go, the Malaysian youngster was already back into fifth.
When the race restarted on lap 27, Tan was the car on the move, immediately up two places to third. With five laps to go, Tan overtook the second-placed car and the race came down to the wire. On the first corner on the final lap of the race, Tan made his courageous move to first position, claiming the first win of the season for him and Rump.
The #13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute R8 LMS had an eventful race. Cheng was hit with a drive-through penalty early in the race, emerging from the pit lane in 22nd position.
Both himself and partner Sun Jingzu well to recover the time lost, but a further late-race drive-through penalty put paid to any chance of a strong finish. They were handed with 30 seconds added to race time in lieu of drive through for overtaking during the safety car period. In the end, the Chinese duo finished the race in P13, sixth in the Pro/Am class.
After eight out of twelve races, Rump and Tan sit fifth in the GT3 Overall championship, just 26 points way from the top, and fourth in the Silver Cup standings. Sun and Cheng now sit 12th in the overall championship two-thirds of the way through their first Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia full season campaign together. In the Pro/Am standings the Chinese duo is lying 11th, two positions behind Singha Plan B by Absolute Racing’s Kantasak Kusiri and Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, who are placed in ninth even if they only took the first three meetings of the season.
The Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia is back next month, this time at the Korea International Circuit, from August 3 to 5.
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “A great result this week at Fuji, especially in terms of how competitive we were on track. Martin and Weiron, whose bad luck has been a factor of the season so far, did a great job this weekend in the #12 car. This is a well-deserved win for them, and for the whole Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute crew who have been working hard to make this possible. The #13 car pair also showed a strong pace all weekend long but unfortunately the stars didn’t align for them. Now we will try to replicate Fuji’s success in Korea.”
Michael Schneider (Team Manager): “Fuji has not been our favourite track for the Audi so far, but the new upgrade kit work is especially good here and changed the game. Already from the free practice we could see that both cars were on pace. Unfortunately we couldn’t show it in the qualifying, but our race pace has been impressive. Martin and Weiron put together a faultless performance in race two. The team also made a great job with a right call for the pit stop and the boys served the stop in the usual professional manner. A win with a 10-second Success Penalty in this strong and competitive field is something special and just shows the real potential of our team.”
#12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute
Weiron Tan/Martin Rump
Race 1: P2 (2ndSilver Cup)
Race 2: P1 (1stSilver Cup)
#13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute
Cheng Congfu/Sun Jingzu
Race 1: P12 (6thPro/Am)
Race 2: P13 (6thPro/Am)