Bhurit Bhirombhakdi was the “Ringmeister” this past weekend in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup double-header at the 5.148 km Grand Prix configuration of the Nürburgring circuit. Singha Plan by Absolute Racing driver won both races of the weekend, joining Andrew Haryanto on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team line up for 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa – a reward on offer to the highest points-scorer in each country on the Cup’s 2018 calendar.
The seven-car Asian fleet of Absolute Racing started off the weekend on right foot with Bhirombhakdi and Haryanto sharing pole-positions in the Cup first European event, where fortunately the unpredictable weather of the Eifel region didn’t come to play.
On Friday Bhirombhakdi converted his first place start into a tremendous first race win in the series as Haryanto finished second overall and kept the championship lead intact.
Further back in the field; Jeffrey Lee and Sun Jingzu showcased their race craft, making up significant places during the race with #7 Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan and #13 Absolute Racing closing the top five in P4 and P5 respectively.
Yang Xi, who had impressed by posting the third best time of qualifying two and was also in the battle for the front spots, did not finish due to damages in the rear of his R8 LMS.
CTVS Racers’s Naomi Zhang Ran concluded the first ever GT4 Cup race in fourth as Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team’s Anderson Tanoto was a non-finisher.
At a weekend attended by an estimated crowd of 240,000, Bhirombhakdi did it again on Saturday! Singha Plan by Absolute Racing driver repeated Friday’s win in Round 4 the day after.
Front row starter Indonesia’s Haryanto led the first half of the race until an accident dropped him out of contention. Even with 50kg of ballast, the ProMax Team racer bounced back to finish fourth, keeping the championship lead intact.
Bhirombhakdi, carrying 30kg of ballast, missed a gear as the lights went green, and lost two positions for Lee and Sun. He recovered quickly, overtaking Sun first, and then Lee, when the Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan driver did a small mistake defending his position.
The Thai driver benefitted from the lap eight crash to climb two positions and win for the second time. He lies now in second in the drivers’ GT3 championship standings, just eight points behind Haryanto.
Jeffrey Lee crossed the finish line in second but the Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan driver was disqualified from the results for failing to slow down and comply with Safety Car boards and yellow flags.
Starting from fifth place in the grid, an impressive Sun charged back to second after an early spin. The Chinese driver achieved a much-deserved first overall podium in the Cup.
Yang Xi had been also in position to battle for a podium spot. In the final he suffered two spins on his way to a lowly 9th.
Series newcomer Anderson Tanoto conquered his maiden GT4 Cup podium in dramatic fashion, crossing the finish line with three functioning tires only after two collisions in the last lap of the 14-lap race. Beijing lady racer Zhang Ran finished the race in fourth again.
Asked about his secret to successes, Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, round three and four GT3 winner, pointed out: “In racing, at first I thought to have to have a very brave heart to be fast, but that’s not true. My secret is you have to be very gentle, and you have to be patient and wait for the moment. You don’t go crazy. When you see the moment, you take it.”
Speaking about his GT4 podium result, Anderson Tanoto said: “First and foremost, congratulations to Stephan and Carlos Checa, it was an incredible experience to race with these two guys, a very experienced driver and a very experienced motorbike rider. And second, thanks to Absolute Racing and Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup, it has been a wonderful experience. It is a great feeling to be here today in the podium. We really push our car hard and this is what racing is all about.”
Team Director, Ingo Matter, added, “It was a memorable Cup weekend for all involved that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Our drivers had the chance to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the iconic Nürburgring 24 Hours weekend, and showed that they are not behind their European counterparts. A special word to Bhurit; who had an overwhelming performance this weekend. We will have a wide-open championship battle until the very end within the Cup’s spirit of gentlemanship.”
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup will be back in action in September when it returns to the Asian continent. Rounds 5 & 6 will be held at China’s Ningbo International Speedpark on September 1 and 2.
Round 1 Results:
1. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI (THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/25:11.455
2. 28/Andrew HARYANTO (INA)/GT3/ProMax Team/+0.627
4. 7/Jeffrey LEE (TPE)/GT3/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+2.776
5. 13/SUN Jingzu (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+4.167
13. 99/ZHANG Ran (CHN)/GT4/CTVS Racers/+1 lap
DNF. 3/YANG Xi (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing
DNF. 89/Anderson TANOTO (INA)/GT4/Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team
Round 2 Results:
1. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI (THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/27:13.155
2. 13/SUN Jingzu (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+2.834
4. 28/Andrew HARYANTO (INA)/GT3/ProMax Team/+8.380
8. 3/YANG Xi (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+20.222
11. 89/Anderson TANOTO (INA)/GT4/Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team/+1 lap
12.99/ZHANG Ran (CHN)/GT4/CTVS Racers/+1 lap
GT3 Cup Classification:
1, Andrew HARYANTO – 71 Points
2. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI – 63 pts
6. SUN Jingzu – 28 pts
11. Jeffrey LEE – 13 pts
13. YANG Xi – 12 pts
16. Daniel BILSKI – 8 pts
GT4 Cup Classification:
4. ZHANG Ran – 24 Points
5. Anderson TANOTO – 15 Points
– ENDS –