Suzuka, June 30, 2018 – Martin Rump and Cheng Congfu took a resounding round five Blancpain GT Series Asia win at Japan’s iconic Suzuka Circuit. The victory for the Absolute Racing pair – both members of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia driver pool – has catapulted them into second in the GT3 championship on 66 points, just three points from overall lead.
“It was a long-awaited victory for Martin Rump and Cheng Congfu. The whole team worked very hard to achieve it with consistent lap times and a great pit stop, which put our drivers back in the race lead,” said Michael Schneider, Team Manager of Absolute Racing.
It was a positive start to the weekend’s double-header too for OD Racing Team WRT’s Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel who crossed the line in seventh, with Phoenix Racing Asia’s Alex Yoong and Shaun Thong also recording a top 10 finish, taking the flag in ninth.
Absolute Racing’s other two Audi R8 LMS GT3 entries of Adderly Fong/Andrew Kim and Josh Burdon/Anthony Liu were unable to finish the race having both been caught by a spinning competitor in front of them whilst in Pro/Am podium contention with less than 10 minutes of the race to go.
KCMG’s local privateers Naoto Takeda and Takuya Shirasaka continued their remarkable 100% Am Cup winning streak after Shirasaka dramatically dived into class lead on the penultimate lap of the 60-minute sprint. The pair have now already reached 100 points in the classification at the halfway point in the season, 43 points ahead of their nearest challengers.
Round five report
Rump started round five of Blancpain GT Series Asia on pole after clocking a lap of 2:02.267 in the morning’s first qualifying session. However, as soon as the lights had gone green on the afternoon’s race, the Estonian had lost the lead.
Undaunted, Rump stayed in contention before setting about reeling in the race leader ahead of the enforced mid-race driver change.
A quick pit stop from Absolute Racing saw Cheng Congfu emerge in the race lead, but only just, with the Chinese star immediately forced to defend from a competitor. Defend he did, with Cheng stretching his lead over the remainder of the race to claim his team’s first win of the season after 28 laps of Suzuka.
OD Racing Team WRT’s Patel had started in eighth and put in a strong stint to hand over the reins to Gilbert in sixth. Gilbert lost a place during his stint to take his team’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 home in seventh, equalling their highest finish of the season thus far.
Shaun Thong, a race winner with Phoenix Racing Asia in last season’s corresponding round five, had started in 10th place and gained a position before handing the wheel to Yoong. The three-time Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion was in a pitched battle for eighth in the latter half of the race but could not make it stick, crossing the line in ninth to claim some much-needed points for his team.
For Absolute Racing’s Pro/Am entries the race ended in heartbreak. Adderly Fong had taken over from a strong stint from teammate Andrew Kim to be running 10th overall, second in class, as the clock ticked down to show less than 10 minutes remaining. Josh Burdon was, likewise, in the Pro/Am podium fight two places back after taking the reins from Anthony Liu.
With both Fong and Burdon involved in a four-car battle for ninth place, a competitor in front spun with both of the Audi R8 LMS GT3s caught up in the melee, forcing them into the pits and out of the race. It was a bitter pill for the Absolute Racing drivers to swallow with no points to add to their Pro/Am championship campaigns.
In the Am Cup, KCMG’s Takeda had started round five in 21st place, four places behind the class pole-sitters. Takeda put in a good stint handing the car over to Shirasaka on the tail of the class leaders. Shirasaka, then, piled increasing pressure onto his competitor in the second half of the race.
The Japanese privateer could not find a way through though, until a late-race dive up the inside on the penultimate lap saw him snatch the class lead and cross the line for the duo’s fifth win out of five this season.
Round six of Blancpain GT Series Asia kicks off at the Suzuka Circuit at 10:50 (UTC +9), Sunday 1st July.
For additional details, visit：www.audi-motorsport-asia.com