The Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute celebrated its second win of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season in front of a bumper crowd at ‘the home of Chinese motorsport’ Shanghai. Martin Rump and Weiron Tan had a dominant race one in the season finale as Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu in the second Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry took their first Pro/Am podium of the season.
- Rump and Tan secure the second win of the season
- Cheng and Sun storm to Pro/Am podium
- Strong pace but little reward in the last race of 2019
Friday morning qualifying session Rump continued on his quick pace and set the fastest time during Friday morning’s qualifying session one, placing at the head of the 29-strong GT field at China’s Formula 1 circuit for Round 11. Sun qualified 11th, fourth in the Pro/Am class.
Friday ended with race one as the drivers lined up onto the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit. Rump had a quick getaway from the pole position and an early safety-car period did not throw him off balance. The Estonian very quickly settled into a rhythm, clocking laps that were regularly over a second faster than his competitors and building a gap ahead of the mid-race driver change.
When the pit window opened mid-race, Rump dived in for the driver change early with a gap of 7.1 seconds ahead of his closest rival. Tan took over from Rump and with the pit window closed had a ten-second lead. The Malaysian driver pushed hard, and built a comfortable gap, taking the flag for a well-deserved second victory of the season.
The other Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry had a good start to the race with Sun moving two places up the overall standings to ninth. The Chinese ‘gentleman driver’ was also in early handing the car over to long-time friend, mentor and teammate Cheng Congfu. Cheng continued the strong pace he had shown across all of the weekend’s sessions at his home track, taking the car home a comfortable eighth overall for the duo’s highest finish of the season – third in the Pro/Am class.
The season came to an end with a 60-minute sprint race on Saturday morning. Following Saturday’s Q2 times, Cheng lined up P5 and Tan P17. A sense of ‘déjà vu’ loomed over the two Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute crews. The weekend ended in huge disappointment with #12 experiencing a puncture early in the race whilst #13 being left without a possible Top-5 finish after a collision in the last lap.
Tan had an unfortunate opening lap, picking up a puncture that saw his good start wiped out as he emerged from the pits in 27th place. The Malaysian driver and Rump then set about working their way through the pack, recovering strongly to 13th overall, and fifth in the Silver Cup class.
As the race got underway, Cheng got a good start. However a rival turned around the Chinese driver early on lap one and he found himself down in 19th place. Cheng and Sun recovered expertly to be running sixth on the very last lap, only for another contact with a GT4 car to take them down to 14th (Pro/Am 8th) at the flag.
With the dust settled after 12 rounds of action across five Asian nations, Tan and Rump’s fourth in the Silver Cup standings was complimented by sixth place in the overall GT3 championship. Cheng and Sun ended the season in 11th in the Pro/Am championship.
With two race wins and four podium finishes, Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute finished fourth in the GT3 Teams’ Championship.
The Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute now look forward to 2020 and will confirm their plans shortly. The 2020 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia kicks off at Sepang (Malaysia) on March 28/29.
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “This weekend sums up our season pretty well. We had the pace and we showed we could win, but Lady Luck was not always on our side. Following yesterday’s fabulous win, today’s puncture ruined Martin and Weiron’s race. Cheng and Sun were so close of a season best top-5 when they tangled with backmarker. However, as a team we never gave up, and I would like to thank everyone for their hard work. As from tomorrow we will switch our focus to the 2020 season.”
Michael Schneider (Team Manager): “Weiron and Martin showed what we can do by winning on Saturday. It was our second victory of the season. Cheng and Sun were also very strong this weekend, scoring their first class podium. Pity they had a touch in the last lap with a slower car and they couldn’t achieve their season best today. Our pace during the season was very good, and we could have fight for the championship if we didn’t have the results we had in Suzuka and Korea. But we expected a lot more. When you see what they are capable to do, we shall have delivered more. We had really unlucky results, but that’s racing. That’s all it is.”
Martin Kuehl (Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia): “Overall, it’s been a successful season finale weekend for Audi Sport customer racing Asia in Shanghai. After an overall win yesterday, luck was not on our side today with many on-track incidents putting paid to the chances of our drivers and teams. But this is racing. We are already looking forward to next season in Asia’s leading multi-marque GT championship.”
#12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute
Weiron Tan/Martin Rump
Race 1: P1 (1st Silver Cup)
Race 2: P13 (5th Silver Cup)
#13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute
Cheng Congfu/Sun Jingzu
Race 1: P8 (3rd Pro/Am)
Race 2: P14 (8th Pro/Am)
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