Alex Au and Alex Yoong mastered the treacherous conditions at Shanghai International Circuit in the penultimate round of the 2016 GT Asia Series to score Phoenix Racing its first win of 2016 in the #6 Audi R8. The pair outlasted a lengthy duel with the #88 Craft Bamboo Porsche which faded late in the race after two costly spins late in the race by Frank Yu.
“We were looking good, the car had the pace, but the rain came down heavier and I started to struggle through the puddles more than the Porsche behind before handing over to Alex (Au), then he drove so well after that,” Yoong said after the race.
“I was very nervous but through the last couple of races he has improved so much, he brought it home and did a perfect job.”
The visibility was low in the first of the two races in the 2016 finale in China, with heavy rain all morning leading up to the race making the conditions very tricky for the drivers. But from pole position the #6 Phoenix Audi led at the hands of Alex Yoong, who controlled proceedings throughout the first half of the race which saw two appearances from the safety car.
Behind Yoong, the #88 Craft Bamboo Porsche was in the fight throughout the first half of the race, with Richard Lyons able to keep the pressure on Yoong as the rest of the field fell behind. Further back disaster struck for the second Bamboo Porsche and the championship-contending BBT Ferrari – which was just nine points off the leading FFF Racing Lamborghini (which finished seventh) in the points heading into the race. At Turn 1 at the start Davide Rizzo in the Ferrari had a spin and collected Darryl O’Young’s Bamboo Porsche.
The Safety Car was then subsequently deployed because the Porsche wouldn’t fire up as Rizzo drove back onto the circuit and to the back of the pack. Later in the race, further issues for BBT team occurred as Rizzo pulled off at the final hairpin with significant front-end damage and smoke pouring out of the race just twenty minutes into the race, retiring the car, putting a dent in Rizzo and Anthony Liu’s title hopes.
It wasn’t a comfortable run to the finish for the leading Audi though, as the #88 Craft Bamboo Porsche took the lead of the race at the stops when Frank Yu took over from Lyons. It wouldn’t last though, as Au piled on the pressure and Yu as a result made a key mistake, losing the rear of the car with five minutes left, dropping him to third behind the Absolute Bentley of Adderly Fong.
In desperation Yu then made a bold move to retake second off Fong round the outside of the final corner, but a second mistake would relegate him to fourth place behind the sister Phoenix Audi of Shaun Thong and Marchey Lee. Yu again lost the rear of the 911, backing into the wall at Turn 2. Fong finished 23 seconds back from the leading Audi.
Finishing behind the troubled Porsche in fifth was the first of the two FFF Racing Lamborghinis, the #15 of Jeroen Mul and Marco Mapelli after Mapelli drove solidly during his stint. The Gruppe M Porsche finished 6th, with the championship leading FFF Lambo of Andrea Liberati and Andrea Amici a distant seventh.