- Absolute Racing serviced cars shine in Blancpain GT Asia Series
- OD Racing Team wins the first ever race of the series
- Team Milestone round out the podium in Pro-Am class
Kuala Lumpur, April 9th , 2017 – Absolute Racing wrote a piece of history of Asian motorsport by winning the first race of the new Blancpain GT Series Asia.
Absolute Racing fielded two Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars this weekend in the inaugural Blancpain GT Asia Series race at Sepang, Malaysia. Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel paired up in the #86 OD Racing Team entry and Franky Cheng Congfu joined behind the wheel by the Gentleman Driver Sun Jingzu in the #13 Milestone Racing entry.
Absolute Racing serviced cars started to shine from the very beginning, with Milestone Racing topping the timesheets of the two test days ahead of weekend, and were back again in the headlines in the Qualifying session.
On Saturday morning Qualifying session Gilbert superbly qualified on pole, setting a lap time of 2:04.180 in the first 15-minute session. Teammate Patel did not disappoint and qualified P8 overall for Race 2. Absolute Racing’s other entry qualified 13th in the hands of Sun for race 1, while Cheng put the blue Audi into fourth for the second race.
In bright sunshine and with summer temperatures, on Saturday afternoon, pole-sitter Gilbert got off to a quick start for the first race of the season aware of the fact that he needed to create a gap between himself and the rest of the pack before the mandatory pit stop window. However, a safety car period caused due to an incident in the start dented the team’s strategy to a certain extent.
Nevertheless, Gilbert managed to pull a 10-second lead before handing over to Patel, who then lapped consistently to increase the gap to 20 seconds, taking the chequered flag as the first winner of the championship.
After an eventful start and the safety car period, Sun Jingzu, who didn’t race for half year, moved up two positions. With some smart strategy and a perfect pit-stop, Cheng continued their charge to the front of the pack.
In a calm and collected way, Cheng used the opportunities to overtake that opened up in front of him and moved up into ninth. On lap 16 Cheng came under pressure from the local hero Alex Yoon and former Formula One driver Will Stevens, both also driving Audi machinery. The trio wrestled on the limit in the closing stages, with Chinese driver solidly fending off his opponents and retaining the 9th place overall and the 3rd position of Pro-Am class.
Starting from eight for the second race of the weekend, Patel, who did his stint with a bunch of Pro drivers, managed to hang on to the frontrunners’ pace until he passed the car to Gilbert. The Malaysian-born Australian driver started his spell by overtaking the two Mercedes AMG. At lap 21 the OD Racing Team Audi was already third overall but the race was not yet finish.
With five minutes to go Gilbert took a late lunge to overtake the #5 Audi, overcoming the 10-second success penalty with an outstanding second place finish. Gilbert/Patel lead by 13 points after the first of six race weekends.
Franky Cheng had a good start and managed to keep Milestone Racing third position during his stint. Sun took over the wheel of the #13 Audi at the halfway point, crossing the finish line in 12th overall and 6th of Pro-Am class.
Ingo Matter, Team Director, said, “We are very proud to have won the first ever race of Blancpain GT Asia Series. One victory and three-podium finishes is an amazing result, but fully deserved by each and every member of the team who have all strived so hard for this success, and had such short preparation time to make this happen. This is a very competitive series and we were the fastest of the Audi teams this weekend. It is also very rewarding to see the performance of our drivers and how well prepared they were to take on this challenge. Mitch drove with us last season in Carrera Cup Asia, Aditya did three seasons in Audi R8 LMS Cup, Franky goes for the fourth consecutive season with Absolute Racing, and Sun has been progressing with us since 2012. We can build on results like these for the rest of the season.”
The Blancpain GT Asia Series is back next month, this time at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram (Thailand), from May 19 to 21.