Shanghai, September 23, 2017 – Audi customer teams and drivers wrapped up a memorable day at the Shanghai International Circuit with a clean sweep of the podium in Round 9 of Blancpain GT Series Asia. The Audi Hong Kong pair of Shaun Thong and Marchy Lee scorched to their second race win of the season and now sit just eight points off overall championship lead.
Crossing the line in second place were OD Racing Team’s Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel, who also made up ground on the overall championship leader. Alex Yoong and Alex Au in the Team Audi R8 LMS Cup car were third overall, first in the Pro/Am class.
“Congratulations to Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong for their victory today against a very strong field of marques and drivers. Phoenix Racing Asia and Absolute Racing showed their quality after the cars that they service swept the podium today," said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. "Audi Hong Kong and OD Racing Team have put themselves right back in the title hunt."
Thong and Lee’s win sees them on 126 championship points, second overall and eight points off the top spot. Gilbert and Patel remain third overall on 95 points, 39 off the lead with 75 points still to play for this season.
Lee started the race in third with Gilbert in fourth, but those positions were shaken up when the damp, challenging conditions led to chaos after the lights went green. A competitor spun at turn two, scattering the field and forcing Lee wide, dropping the Hong Kong star down to eighth, with Gilbert fifth and the safety car brought out.
After the restart Gilbert was flying, gaining three positions in two laps with the Malaysian then setting about reeling in the race leader. Lee, in the sparkling gold and black Aape-sponsored Audi Hong Kong machine, had also sliced through the field to remain in close pursuit in third.
By lap 11 Gilbert had closed right up to the race leader, temporarily taking the lead only to lose it, with Lee right on his tail waiting for a chance to pounce.
With the pit lane open, Gilbert handed his OD Racing Team car over to Patel, who emerged from the driver change in second place, with Audi Hong Kong’s Thong, having taken over from Lee following in third.
However, the conditions remained tricky with the track visibly wet in some sections, but dry in others. Patel struggled on his first lap on new rubber and on turn 16 got on the grass and dramatically spun with Thong thundering past him into second. Patel recovered well to keep the car off the wall, losing just one position.
Out in front, the race leader incurred a drive-through penalty, promoting Thong into race lead. The 21-year-old displayed the maturity that has marked his season to bring the car home for his team’s second series victory, with Patel crossing the line less than three seconds behind in second.
Behind the front two, Yoong had built on a very impressive stint from teammate Au to bring the Team Audi R8 LMS Cup car home in third, topping the Pro/Am class podium in the process. Amateur competitor Au had battled superbly at the start of the race from a starting position of eighth to hand the car over to Yoong in fourth.
Further down the order Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu claimed a top ten finish in the blue Milestone Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3, tenth overall and fourth in the Pro/Am class. Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello of J-Fly by Absolute Racing finished in 25th place overall after being hit with a stop/go penalty late in the race.
In the Am/Am class the Japanese KCMG duo of Naoto Takeda and Takuya Shirasaka finished 16th overall, fourth in class.
Rick Yoon and Martin Rump’s race was over before it began after an incident on the out lap involving Yoon meant their KCMG by Champion Racing Team car could not start the race.
Round 10 of Blancpain GT Series Asia gets underway on Sunday, September 24 at 13:45 (UTC + 8). Remarkably, six of the first seven grid positions are taken up by Audi customer teams and drivers after a dominant qualifying session for the brand with four rings. The pack will be led by recently crowned 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Picariello, who earlier in the day had secured his third pole position in the championship out of just four attempts.
Blancpain GT Series Asia 2017
3. 86/Aditya Patel/Mitch Gilbert/OD Racing Team/02:19.729
4. 5/Marchy Lee/Shaun Thong/Audi Hong Kong/02:19.822
8. 6/Alex Au/Alex Yoong/Audi R8 LMS Cup/02:20.567
10. 18/Rick Yoon/Martin Rump/KCMG by Champion Racing/02:20.943
13. 13/Jingzu Sun/Franky Cheng/Milestone Racing/ 02:21.975
17. 7/Jeffrey Lee/Alessio Picariello/J-Fly by Absolute Racing/02:22.775
22. 19/Naoto Takeda/Takuya Shirasaka/KCMG/02:24.118
1. 7/Jeffrey Lee/Alessio Picariello/J-Fly by Absolute Racing/02:18.552
2. 6/Alex Au/Alex Yoong/Audi R8 LMS Cup/02:18.599
3. 18/Rick Yoon/Martin Rump/KCMG by Champion Racing/02:18.646
4. 13/Jingzu Sun/Franky Cheng/Milestone Racing/02:18.800
6. 86/Aditya Patel/Mitch Gilbert/OD Racing Team/02:19.430
7. 5/Marchy Lee/Shaun Thong/Audi Hong Kong/02:19.549
24. 19/Naoto Takeda/Takuya Shirasaka/KCMG/02:25.277
1. 5/Marchy Lee/Shaun Thong/Audi Hong Kong/1:00:07.107
2. 86/Aditya Patel/Mitch Gilbert/OD Racing Team/+2.578
3. 6/Alex Au/Alex Yoong/Audi R8 LMS Cup/+22.833
10. 13/Jingzu Sun/Franky Cheng/Milestone Racing/+01:03.1
16. 19/Naoto Takeda/Takuya Shirasaka/KCMG/+1 Lap
25. 7/Jeffrey Lee/Alessio Picariello/J-Fly by Absolute Racing/+7 Laps