Blancpain GT Series Asia Round 7 & 8 weekend at the Fuji Speedway, in Japan, proved to be a big challenge for the three-car Absolute Racing team but in the end the Audi R8 LMS armada still managed to score points in both races with all the cars, which has to be considered a positive factor.
– Rump and Cheng still on GT3 Overall and Silver Cup titles chase
– Liu and Burdon missed out on the Pro-Am podium by just 3 tenths
– Kim and Fong keep scoring in Pro-Am class
Qualifying didn’t go quite as well as the team would hope. Rump’s Q1 was thwarted by traffic where a clean lap was unobtainable. The Estonian driver set the fifth fastest with a lap of 1:38.278 around the 4.563-kilometer, 16-turn track. Elsewhere, Anthony Liu qualified 12th place, and fourth in the Pro Am class, while Andrew Kim placed his car in 14th place.
In Q2, Josh Burdon in the #37 Paragon Water Systems China Absolute Racing sister car clocked the fastest Audi lap of the whole weekend so far, dipping below the 1 min 38 second mark, but it was only enough to grab P11 for Sunday’s round eight. Cheng and Fong were unable to complete a clean lap when it counted. The #7 and the #3 lined up in 16th and 17th respectively.
In Fuji’s opening race, a sixth place finish for Cheng Congfu and Martin Rump meant the Suzuka Round 5 winner pair ended the day fourth in the GT3 championship. In the chase for the Silver Cup title, the Audi Sport customer racing Asia Pool Drivers duo also scored an important fifth place finish.
In the Pro-Am class, Liu and Burdon kept their hopes of a class title alive just missing out on the podium by just three-tenths of a second, finishing fourth in class. They were in the Pro-Am class podium fight but an outlap spin of the Tasmanian driver proved costly as they dropped to fourth in the class and P12 overall.
Andrew Kim and Adderly Fong run a race without making mistakes, finishing in 13th place, collecting valuable fifth-place points in the Pro-Am class.
On Sunday lunch time the race in the foothills of the majestic Mount Fuji was again full of action right from the start. Starting from seventh-place, #3 has not thrown in the towel after Cheng dropping to P24 in the first lap. Cheng and Rump had a great run going gaining twelve positions to 12th at the flag. With this result, they lie fourth in the GT3 Drivers’ Championship standings, occupying the same position in their class – 38 points off the overall lead and just 14 points off the pace in the Silver Cup.
Burdon / Liu crossed the line in 13th place overall and seventh in the Pro-Am in the weekend’s second race. The Paragon Water Systems China sponsored car is now fifth in the Pro-Am class.
Down in the field, starting from 16th on the grid, the Pro-Am pairing Fong and Kim were able to improve on their starting position, with Kim’s pace catching the eye and Adderly’s tenacity. The #7 finished P14 overall and eighth in the Pro-Am class.
Speaking about the weekend, Team Manager Michael Schneider said, “Fuji is always a very challenging circuit. We expected a difficult weekend, but all our drivers did a good job and stayed out of trouble, trying to collect as many points as possible this weekend. Now we are looking forward to the last two rounds in Shanghai and Ningbo where we can fight for podiums again.”
Team Director Ingo Matter, added, “This weekend results aren’t a great reward for the team after a lot of hard work. However the drivers did the best they could have done given the challenges that were thrown our way. There are also positives to take away from this weekend and we will look at everything and try to improve our fortunes for the remaining of the season. We have the summer break now. That’s an occasion to regroup and come back stronger in China and get ready for the final four races of the season.”
Absolute Racing now take off for China, for the first of the two Chinese consecutive double-header races. The Shanghai International Circuit weekend takes place on September 21 and 23.
Round 7 & 8 Results
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