Absolute Racing celebrated a return to the rostrum at Suzuka Circuit, with Martin Rump and Cheng Congfu claiming team team’s first win of the season during Round 5 and 6 of the Blancpain GT Series Asia.
Saturday was a glorious day for the team in Japan. All it started with Martin Rump setting the pole position for race one; the second pole-position of the season for the team. Am drivers Anthony Liu and Andrew Kim qualified 11th and 14th respectively for the opening round of the weekend.
Round 5 saw Rump and Cheng Congfu claiming their maiden Blancpain GT Series Asia victories after their #3 Absolute Racing Audi led home a top-six comprising as many different GT3 manufacturers.
Rump started on pole but right after the lights had gone green the Estonian had lost the lead. Fearless, Rump stayed in contention handing over the car to his Chinese team-mate A quick and efficient pit stop from the team saw Cheng Congfu emerge in the race lead, but only just, with the Chinese star immediately forced to defend from an opponent. He continued to push, holding the position and conquering the team’s much-deserved first win of the season.
However, in the end of the day, it was kind of mixed feelings for the team. On the other side of the garage the two other cars were forced out of the race. Fong and Burdon were both caught by a spinning competitor in front of them whilst in Pro-Am podium contention (P2 and P3) with less than 10-minutes to go.
Speaking about Absolute Racing’s first overall win of the season, Team Manager Michael Schneider said, “It was a long-awaited victory for Martin Rump and Cheng Congfu. The whole team worked very hard to achieve it with consistent lap times and a great pit stop, which put our drivers back in the race lead.”
The result of Saturday’s Q2 determined the grid for Sunday morning’s Round 6. Fong lined up seventh on the grid, Burdon from ninth and Cheng from 12th.
Sunday’s Round 6 was everything less kind to the team. #7 Absolute Racing Audi race ended in the gravel in the opening lap. #3 Absolute Racing Audi was flying up the order after serving the full 15s success penalty, when Rump was put out of contention by a contact with 15 min to go.
At the mid-point of the 12-race season Rump and Congfu are third in the overall title chase and second in the Silver Cup standings.
Burdon/ Liu saw the chequered flag in eight and third in Pro-Am class, after a strong back-to-front race, but a 30 second post-race penalty dropped them down to 17th overall. The weekend’s results have left #37 Paragon Water Systems Absolute Racing Audi pair in fourth place in the Pro-Am class standings.
Following another challenging weekend, the Absolute Racing squad has now moved forward in the championship standings and looks forward to a two week opportunity to re-group before the fourth event of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia at Fuji Speedway on July 21/22.
Photo courtesy of Audi Sport customer racing Asia