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GT World Challenge Asia News Notebook

ABSSA Racing’s McLaren 720S GT3 returns to GT World Challenge Asia this season with Keita Sawa once again behind the wheel.

The Japanese team and driver enjoyed a strong end to their debut campaign last year when Sawa, who also oversees team management duties, and former partner Piti Bhirombhakdi finished eighth in the highly-competitive Pro/Am class.

The Thai’s subsequent move to Earl Bamber Motorsport ahead of 2020 has opened up a space alongside silver-graded Sawa, whose co-driver will be announced shortly.

The team’s late start hampered progress initially in 2019 but Sawa is confident of maintaining the upward curve that made ABSSA a regular top-10 contender over the second half of last year.

“I am so proud to be heading into our second season of GT World Challenge Asia,” said the former Asian Le Mans Series champion.

“We learnt a lot in a very short space of time last year and feel like there’s a lot more still to come after gaining experience. I’m sure we can improve further, we will continue pushing hard this season.

“We are also looking forward to welcoming our new sponsor, First Garage, and working closely with McLaren Customer Racing.”

Audi Sport Asia Team X Works Confirm Silver Cup Duo

Sandy Stuvik and Shae Davies will re-join GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS this season as part of Audi Sport Asia Team X Works’ new Silver Cup entry.

The Thai-Australian duo first joined forces with Craft-Bamboo Racing in 2018 but went their separate ways last season to campaign Audi’s R8 LMS GT3 on different continents. Stuvik claimed his domestic Thailand Super Series title while Davies contested the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.

Sheer consistency helped former Euroformula Open champion Stuvik finish sixth overall in 2017 before teaming up with Davies the following season. The 29-year-old is a former V8 Touring Car champion in his native Australia and has competed in a number of the world’s leading events and series, including the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Bathurst 12 Hour and Virgin Australia Supercars.

“Sandy and Shae are both talented drivers and we are excited to see them build on their success with the Audi R8 LMS in this season’s GT World Challenge Asia,” said Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia, Martin Kuehl. “X Works has been a long-term partner of Audi in Asia for many years and, together with the drivers, we expect them to be a major force in the coming year.”

The Silver Cup car joins X Works’ previously announced Pro/Am entry featuring Philip Tang whose co-driver will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Tan and Rump For Absolute Audi Effort 

2019 championship contenders Weiron Tan and Martin Rump return to GT World Challenge Asia with Absolute Racing and Audi this coming season.

The Malaysian-Estonian duo won twice and scored two more podiums en route to finishing sixth in the overall standings and fourth in Silver Cup in 2019, while the latter also mounted a serious title challenge with the same team and manufacturer in 2018.

Both were recently announced as Audi Sport Asia drivers for 2020 when they’ll once again tackle GT World Challenge Asia’s six-round campaign.

“Martin and Weiron were a potent force at almost every round of last season’s GT World Challenge Asia,” said Audi Sport customer racing Asia director Martin Kuehl. “Together with Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute, they have the potential to develop into top contenders for the 2020 campaign.”

Rump is one of a select few drivers to have contested every GT World Challenge Asia race since the series launched in 2017. And the 23-year-old, who has claimed overall podiums in each of the last three seasons, is eager to better the fourth place he and Franky Cheng achieved two years ago.

“Last year was a real mixed bag for Weiron and I, we had the speed and results to mount a championship challenge but also missed out on a few big opportunities that would have kept us in contention until the final round,” he said. “We certainly have the package, we proved it with Absolute Racing and Audi last season, so now have to maximise every chance we possibly can, including when Success Penalties make it difficult to score points.”

Vattana Lamborghini For Am Cup

Vattana Motorsport will join GT World Challenge Asia full-time this season after confirming an Am Cup entry.

The Thai team’s Lamborghini driven by Chonsawat Asavahame contested four rounds in 2019, and now returns to tackle all six events with championship debutant Pitsanu Sirimongkolkasem partnering Asavahame.

The latter claimed three victories across the eight races he entered last season, making Vattana one of the early favourites to challenge reigning class champions Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter, who also return.

“We really enjoyed our GT World Challenge Asia introduction last season, so much so that we entered more races than initially expected,” said Asavahame. “We learnt a lot and enjoyed working at a professional level, which has prepared us for 2020. Indeed, the next logical step was to compete in all six rounds and mount a proper Am Cup title challenge. Pitsanu’s experience of the team and car plus everything we discovered last year means we’re well prepared to do just that.”

Sirimongkolkasem, meanwhile, has contested the Thailand Super Series with Vattana for the past two seasons and has existing knowledge of the Huracan GT3 he’ll race this year.

“I would like to thank Chonsawat for trusting me to compete with Vattana at an international level this year,” he said. “This is a proper Thai team with Thai personnel and drivers, so naturally we are very proud to be representing our country across the region. Vattana enjoyed strong results at home and abroad last season, something we fully intend to continue doing throughout 2020.”

Vattana join Zun Motorsport, Legacy Racing and reigning champions AMAC Motorsport on GT World Challenge Asia’s list of confirmed Am Cup contenders this year.