Sun Jingzu and Bhurit Bhirombhakdi shared the wins at Ningbo International Speedpark to make it a fine weekend for the Absolute Racing contingent in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup.
On Saturday, even carrying the 20kg of success ballast, Sun Jingzu emerged victorious in Round 5. Fresh from a solid performance in the Suzuka 10 Hours, the Chinese driver conquered maiden overall win in the series. Second, following a valiant charge to the podium after being shunted to the back of the pack, was Australian Yasser Shahin. This weekend was the first that the The Bend Motorsport Park liveried Audi R8 LMS GT3 was technically supported by Absolute Racing.
Taking the final podium place was championship points-leader, ProMax Team’s Andrew Haryanto, who crossed the line first but was handed a 30-second post-race penalty for a first turn clash with pole-sitter Bhurit Bhirombhakdi. Even carrying the full 50kg of success ballast, the Thai driver fought back, recovering to finish fifth behind Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan’s Jeffrey Lee, who ran up in second place for a while before dropping back.
Sixth in the GT3 class behind Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhirombhakdi was Absolute Racing’s debutant Li Xue Feng. Yang Xi didn’t finish the race.
On Sunday’s race, Bhirombhakdi took his third overall victory in the series. The ‘Thai Tornado’ snatched the lead from pole-sitter Haryanto in the early stages of the 16-lap race, putting himself more than 11 seconds ahead of the Indonesian, who crossed the line in second.
Haryanto still leads the drivers’ championship by 6 points from Bhirombhakdi. Australia’s Shahin completed the podium. The Australian once again forced to fight his way back from an early race setback.
Round 5’s winner Sun Jingzu finished fourth, ahead of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan’s Jeffrey Lee and Absolute Racing’s Yang Xi. Tian Li Yang took the seat of Li Xue Feng for this race, crossing the finish line in eight on his return to the series.
The race for the ‘Road to Spa’ seat from the China rounds remains wide open and will be decided next month in Shanghai, with the highest combined GT3 points scorer from rounds five to eight joining Haryanto and Bhirombhakdi on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team for the 2019 24 Hours of Spa. Sun is currently in pole position to claim it with 37 points scored in China thus far, but Shahin is just a whisker behind on 33 and Jeffrey Lee placed third (22 points).
In the GT4 category, Anderson Tanoto won both races. The Indonesian, who debuted in the series at Nurburgring, is now leading the GT4 drivers’ standings in the class. Chinese superstar actor and singer Han Geng of Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team, who was making his Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup debut at the Ningbo track, completed both races in second and sits fourth in the standings.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup now has a month’s break before reconvening at the home of “Chinese” Motorsport”, Shanghai International Circuit for rounds 7 and 8 on October 6-7, followed by the invitational SIC888 endurance race on October 7. Drivers who enter the 888km endurance race will earn 10 Cup points towards their respective championship campaigns.
Michael Schneider (Team Manager): “We saw two really close qualifying and races from our drivers, and a new face on the top step of the podium, with Sun Jingzu the winner. The drivers not only delivered a great show for the spectators they also really enjoyed the atmosphere here and the sportsmanship in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup. This is proof that the new concept of the Cup is a great success and we have a lot of interest from other drivers for the future.”
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “A perfect result for Absolute Racing this weekend, and great to see our drivers up there represented on the podium. It’s also great to see such a good fight between our drivers in the races and the camaraderie spirit that reigns out of the track. Once again, drivers, engineers and mechanics performed brilliantly this weekend. A special thanks to the whole crew who had to flight from Japan, right after the very tough Suzuka 10-Hours race, to prepare and put to run nine cars faultlessly in Ningbo. For that they deserve the utmost gratitude and respect.”
Fabien Fior (Team Director): “We’re leaving Ningbo in positive spirits. This weekend was always going to be about very close races, with little difference between the drivers who did put a good show in the end. I have to say a good job well done by the Absolute Racing crew. All in all a pretty good weekend for the team.”
Round 5 Results:
1. 13/SUN Jingzu (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/29:34.421
2. 74/Yasser SHAHIN (AUS)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+0.553
3. 28/Andrew HARYANTO (INA)/GT3/ProMax Team/+10.331
4. 7/Jeffrey LEE (TPE)/GT3/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+57.387
5. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI (THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+57.954
6. 95/LI Xue Feng (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+1:21.903
8. 89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing/+2 laps
9. 9/HAN Geng (CHN)/GT4/Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team/+ 2 laps
DNF. 3/YANG Xi (CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing
Round 6 Results:
1. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI (THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/31:12.176
2. 28/Andrew HARYANTO (INA)/GT3/ProMax Team/+11.589
3. 74/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+12.466
4. 13/SUN Jingzu(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+19.653
5. 7/Jeffrey LEE(TPE)/GT3/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+1:29.347
6. 3/YANG Xi(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/1:40.459
8. 5/TIAN Li Ying(CHN)/Absolute Racing/+1 lap
9. 89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing/+2 laps
10. 9/HAN Geng(CHN)/GT4/Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team/+ 2 laps
GT3 Cup Classification:
1. Andrew HARYANTO – 105 Points
2. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI – 99 pts
3. Yasser SHAHIN – 73 pts
4. SUN Jingzu – 65 pts
5. Jeffrey LEE – 35 pts
9. YANG Xi – 20 pts
16. Daniel BILSKI – 8 pts
17. LI Xue Feng – 8 pts
18. TIAN Li Ying – 6 pts
GT4 Cup Classification:
1. Anderson TANOTO – 67 Points
4. HAN Geng – 36 pts
5. ZHANG Ran – 24 pts