Darryl O’Young and Marvin Dienst tamed dreadful conditions and timed their pitstop to perfection en route to theirs, Craft-Bamboo’s and Porsche’s maiden Blancpain GT Series Asia victory in the weekend’s second Shanghai race earlier today.
The pair finished 16.4s clear of GT3 Pro/Am winners Alex Au and Alex Yoong, while Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel sealed their second podium of the weekend to remain in overall championship contention.
But there was further disappointment for Hunter Abbott who, having failed to score yesterday, watched his co-driver Maxi Buhk retire their GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG with front-left suspension damage. That handed the overall championship lead to Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong after they backed up yesterday’s win with a fifth place in Race 2.
Nevertheless, Abbott can at least be proud of claiming GT3’s Pro/Am championship with a race to spare. He leads Au and Yoong by 58 points with a maximum of just 50 on offer at Zhejiang.
Before the race, persistent rain forced the race to start under Safety Car conditions, the green flag coming out after two laps. J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s Alessio Picariello led away from pole and remained there throughout his opening stint while, behind, the Absolute Racing-run, Milestone-entered Audi of Franky Cheng tracked Yoong before taking second after 20 minutes.
The pit window opened five minutes later and, shortly after, witnessed a flurry of stops when David Tjiptobiantoro prompted a Full Course Yellow by crashing his T2 Motorsports Ferrari into the back of Weiron Tan’s Bentley Team Absolute Continental.
Indeed, everyone bar the top two overall and GT4 leader pitted at the first opportunity, thus reducing the impact of running slowly under FCY conditions. Picarrielo and Cheng still hadn’t made their stops by the time racing resumed, a decision that came back to haunt Absolute when Jeffrey Lee and Sun Jingzu returned to the action fifth and sixth, respectively.
Meanwhile, Dienst had been running fourth before handing over to Darryl O’Young who immediately jumped Yoong’s co-driver Au thanks to the Audi R8 LMS Cup entry’s five-second success penalty. Third on the road then became first when the erstwhile leaders finally stopped under green flag running.
From there O’Young was able to steadily pull clear of Au who kept Gilbert at arm’s length once the Malaysian had passed Arrows Racing’s Will Hardeman. 4.9s separated second and third at the finish, while Hardeman and Earl Bamber – who looked particularly racey in the opening stint – finished fourth on debut.
“The team has put an enormous effort in since moving to Porsche; they’ve been looking at data non-stop, making adjustments and finding ways to make the car better. Its performance has taken a big step forwards this season and we’ve been getting quicker at every race. It’s a well-deserved win after finishing on the podium at the previous two rounds,” O’Young said.
Leo Ye starred after the pitstops by climbing from 12th to fifth and claiming the race’s fastest lap. However, he and HubAuto Racing co-driver Tim Bridgman were handed a 30-second post-race penalty as punishment for the latter’s clash with Buhk, which sidelined the Mercedes-AMG after only a handful of laps.
That gifted fifth to Lee and Thong who overcame the maximum 10-second success penalty for winning yesterday’s race to complete a solid weekend. Indeed, the Audi Hong Kong pair now lead the overall standings by four points after arriving in Shanghai 33 behind Abbott.
Tim Sugden and Jules Szymkowiak brought GruppeM Racing’s second Mercedes-AMG home sixth in the amended results, while Aidan Read just held off the recovering Sandy Stuvik – who had earlier spun just after passing Sugden – to give himself, Alberto Di Folco and FFF Racing Team by ACM seventh.
Craft-Bamboo’s second Porsche driven by Nick Foster and Devon Model finished ninth, one place ahead of HubAuto’s penalised 991 GT3R.
FFF Racing’s Zhu Junhan and Lin Yue finally ended Andrew Haryanto’s five-race Am Cup winning streak by beating KCMG’s Naoto Takeda and Takuya Shirasaka. Haryanto’s X-One Racing Lamborghini completed the class podium.
In GT4, Keo Chang picked up his fourth GT4 victory of the season at Shanghai after denying TTR Team SARD’s Terrence Tse and Tony Fong a first series win on the final lap.
His Taiwan TopSpeed co-driver, Jeff Lu, ran fourth before the pit window opened. But that became second after the driver changes thanks to Craft-Bamboo’s 10-second success penalty and EKS Motorsports’ failure to stop under FCY conditions.
Chang then homed in on Tse, whose co-driver Tony Fong had been third pre-pitstops, over the closing laps and finally snuck through on the final tour to keep alive his championship hopes.
The battle for the final podium place was also only resolved in the closing stages when Frank Yu ran wide and handed third to Ringo Chong’s charging HubAuto Porsche.
Blancpain GT Series Asia’s final two races of the season take place at Zhejiang in China next month.