The latest round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia brought the Absolute Racing-run Porsche squad to the 5.615km Korea International Circuit. The fifth meeting of the year, the first-ever of the series at this Hermann Tilke-designed circuit, gave the team much cause for celebration.
- Victory for Inthraphuvasak and Imperatori in race two
- Podium result keeps Sathienthirakul and Hamprecht on title hunt
- Yuan Bo and Leo Ye claim first Silver Cup win
After a season-best qualifying result for Tanart Sathienthirakul and Philip Hamprecht, the #911 Absolute Racing pair went on to claim their fifth podium of the year, helping the team to sew up the GT3 Team title a way in advance. Race 2 saw Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak and Alexandre Imperatori clinching their second win of the season as Yuan Bo and Leo Ye Hongli made their way to the podium for the first time.
Starting from second on the grid for Saturday’s race, Sathienthirakul made a dive for the lead on the run to Turn 4 on the first lap. The Thai driver managed to keep the first position during his stint. Hamprecht came out of the pits leading the 23-strong GT field, but the German youngster small advantage vanished when he got baulked behind a GT4 car, losing the first position. With four laps left to go, he lost one more position to finish third.
In the team’s sister car, Yuan Bo and Leo Ye started from fifth, but Bo struggled to hold his position and lost one place on the lap seven. With Ye in the car, the #912 Absolute Racing recovered the lost position and eventually crossed the line in P5.
Nevertheless, Hamprecht and Sathienthirakul’s podium plus fifth place for Bo and Ye was enough for Absolute Racing to seal 2019’s Teams’ title with three races to spare.
The third Absolute Racing-run Porsche 911 GT3 R, helmed by Thai racer Inthraphuvasak and Imperatori, finished seventh. The #918 Panther/AAS Motorsport entry started from sixth, dropping down the order in the opening laps, eventually taking the flag in 7th overall and second in the Pro/Am class, collecting another much-welcome haul of points for the Pro/Am class championship challenge.
Making a strong start off the line on Sunday’s race, Imperatori, who started from second on the grid, tried to overtake the race leader in the opening lap at Turn 3 without success. The Swiss driver was able to run a clean stint with Inthraphuvasak emerging in second from the pitstops. His victory was built on the latter’s successful pursuit of the race leader who slipped behind the Porsche with 10 minutes to the end. It was the second overall win of the season for the Panther/AAS Motorsport duo, and the fourth Pro/Am Cup triumph for the Thai driver.
An outstanding start saw Leo Ye running as high as 3rd in the opening laps. He handed the car to his teammate Yuan Bo in fourth, the car’s starting position. With only 4 laps remaining, the former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Class B Champion made his way into the podium positions where he remained at the chequered flag. It marked their second podium of the season for the #912 Absolute Racing pair as well as their first Silver Cup victory.
Having to start from the pitlane due to a gearbox problem, Hamprecht made steady progress through the field. The German youngster showed true grit to push forward an impressive nine places and handing the car over his teammate in P12. Sathienthirakul kept the strong pace, crossing the finish line in eighth.Sathienthirakul and Hamprecht remain on GT3 Overall title hunt. They now sit in second in the standings, just 12 points behind. With a total of 50 points still available, Inthraphuvasak still has mathematical chances to be champion too, as he is only 19 points adrift from the top.
The #911 Absolute Racing pair also lost the lead in the Silver Cup standings, where they sit now second seven points behind the leader. Yuan Bo is currently eighth as Leo Ye is ninth.
Inthraphuvasak has a comfortable 33-point lead in the Pro/Am class.
The drivers’ title showdown will take place on 28th and 29th of September in Shanghai, China.
Fabien Fior (Team Director): “It is a time of great pride and satisfaction for Absolute Racing to mark the first ever Blancpain GT series title in Asia to be won by a Porsche. This conquest is the product of many months of hard work combined with great commitment and exceptional engineering skill. Of course, the focus will now shift to the battle for the GT3 Overall, Silver Cup and Pro/Am’s titles and this will stay as intense as ever for the final two races in Shanghai.”
Tanart Sathienthirakul (#911 Driver): “I think overall we had a solid weekend. We struggled with the pace during practice sessions but we did quite well in the qualifying. We led the race one but we didn’t have the pace to hold the car behind. P3 was quite satisfactory. In the second race we were quite unlucky to start from the pitlane. Philip did a great first stint and we finished in P8, scoring some valuable points. Now we need to push really hard in Shanghai.”
Philip Hamprecht (#911 Driver): “It was a difficult weekend for us as we lost the championship lead. In first race Tanart did a great job. I lost three seconds in one lap due to a backmarker, but there was no way I could keep the Mercedes behind. The pace of the Mercedes was unbelievable fast here. We managed P3 which was good for the championship. We started from the pitlane in race two, but I think I drove the stint of my life. I was really, really quick. The car balance was great and I fought my way halfway through the field. It will be a difficult next round. We’re 12 points behind but we’ll do our best.”
Leo Ye Hongli (#912 Driver): “I think I had a good pace at this track, and my teammate is improving every session. I’m really happy to be on the podium. Thanks to all the mechanics and our engineer. The car felt good, and we deserved the result.”
Yuan Bo (#912 Driver): “It was a tough weekend for me. I never drove in this track before and it is so hard. I just got used to it today when the weekend came to an end. I’m very happy to have finish in the podium and we have some great momentum heading into Shanghai. Our goal is still trying to win a race overall.”
Alexandre Imperatori (#918 Driver): “It was a good weekend for us. Finally we managed to score points on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday it was a bit more difficult cause we had a 10s Pitstop Success Penalty to overcome. Today we went for the overall victory. I had a good start and fought for the lead. In the end I had to settle for the second with a decent gap for the car behind. ‘Vutti’ made a good job after, taking the car to the win. In the end it was great for the championship. In Pro/Am class we are looking good, and we still have a chance in the overall. Let’s see what is going to happen in Shanghai.”
Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak (#918 Driver): “It’s been another really strong weekend for the team and with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Although it was a shame to lose the Pro/Am win on the final lap in race one, we scored a second overall win this season on Sunday. That means I’m still in the hunt for the overall title going into Shanghai. Thanks to the team for another great round and we’re excited for the finale.”
#911 Absolute Racing
Tanart Sathienthirakul/Philip Hamprecht
Race 1: P3 (3rd Silver Cup)
Race 2: P8 (5th Silver Cup)
#912 Absolute Racing
Leo Ye Hongli/Yuan Bo
Race 1: P5 (5th Silver Cup)
Race 2: P3 (2nd Silver Cup)
#918 Panther/AAS Motorsport
Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak/Alexandre Imperatori
Race 1: P7 (2nd Pro/Am)
Race 2: P1 (1st Pro/Am)