Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel in the #86 OD Racing Team Audi R8 have won the first race of the Blancpain GT Series Asia series, but it could have been so different.
The sun shone down on the Sepang International Circuit giving perfect racing conditions, but not such a perfect start for Richard Wee in the #12 Clearwater Racing McLaren and Jun San Chen driving the #90 FIST Team AAI BMW.
It was a dramatic start to the race. The safety car peeled into the pit lane and Gilbert accelerated away from Pole.
Behind him the cars bunched up and weaved and as Wee moved to the right he clipped the front of Chen’s BMW which caused both cars to hit the wall of the pit lane. The safety car was therefore brought back out again.
On the restart it was Gilbert who opened up an 18 second lead before handing over to Patel.
The battle for podium places was intense, with at any one time five cars battling for the spots, but eventually Raffaele Marchiello in the GruppeM #999 Mercedes-AMG made his way through and quickly started to set purples in all sectors.
He was catching Patel, but unfortunately for him the laps just ran out. He did however, manage to cut the lead down from 24 seconds to just nine seconds at the finish in what was a fantastic drive for the former European F3 champion. It also secured the team first in the Pro/Am class.
Behind, the FIST – Team AAI BMW M6 of Jesse Krohn and Ollie Milroy ended up third, with the #888 Gruppe M Mercedes fourth. The Audi Hong Kong R8 LMS rounded out the top five, 26.8 seconds back from the winners.
Down in the GT4 category, Craft Bamboo’s duo of Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin took top honours with its #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, just a handful of seconds ahead of the #10 EKS Porsche.
Ahead of the GT4 runners was EKS’ Invitational class-entered Porsche Cayman GT4, which ended up 21st overall and won by default, by being the class’ only entry.