Double podium for Cheng Congfu and Francis Tjia at CEC season finale weekend

10/18/2020

  • New pairing takes Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 to second and third overall
  • YC Racing take GT3 Pro/Am podium in round two; GT3 Am/Am podium for Absolute Racing in round three
  • MMK Racing celebrates two class victories with Audi RS 3 LMS

Ningbo, October 18, 2020 – Chinese star Cheng Congfu and Audi R8 LMS GT3 newcomer Francis Tjia proved to be a recipe for success when the pair took two overall podium finishes at the China Endurance Championship season finale at the Ningbo International Speedpark. After claiming third in Saturday’s penultimate round, they went one better to claim a nail-biting second overall in the last laps of Sunday’s season finale. In the Absolute Racing sister Audi R8 LMS, Bao Jinlong and Jiang Jiawei took an Am/Am class podium on the latter’s first ever race meeting at GT3 level, while YC Racing’s Chen Weian, Xiao Min and Wu Ruihua climbed the GT3 Pro/Am podium in round two.

The MMK Racing line-up of Zhang Zhendong, Mi Qi and Zheng Wancheng were unbeatable in the TCE class for TCR vehicles, taking the Audi RS 3 LMS to victory from pole in both 150-minute races of the weekend.

“Today’s race was an exciting finish the CEC season,” said Alexander Blackie, Manager of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Congratulations to Cheng Congfu, Franscis Tjia and Absolute Racing for their double podium. As Cheng Congfu hunted second overall in the last race with rain falling and conditions worsening, you just could not take your eyes from the action. Congrats also to MMK Racing for their double win with the RS 3 LMS.”

It was a successful weekend for the PMU Leo TCE entry. Huang Weifu, Wu Yifan and Liu Qi were joined on driving duties in round two by Qiu Wentao and in round three by Yang Xiaowei. Both quartets powered their Audi RS 3 LMS to class podiums, with those on double-duties earning an impressive haul of Audi Sport Asia Trophy points.

Those results see Wu Yifan move into second overall on the Audi Sport Asia Trophy leaderboard on 1,290 points. Tjia’s third and second-place GT3 finishes on what was a strong debut earn him 1,188 Audi Sport Asia Trophy points, seeing him enter the standings in third place. Ma Ka Chun remains in the lead on 1,575 points.

Round two report

After a rapid run in Friday’s single 20-minute qualifying session, Chen Weian secured a P2 start for YC Racing, and as the cars thundered into the opening lap of the penultimate race of the season, Am driver Wu Ruihua did well to stay clear of trouble before handing the wheel to fellow Am driver Xiao Min. However, seconds after Chen took over for the final stint, the Audi Sport Asia driver realized all was not well, parking the car at the end of pit lane. A technical issue saw the team sidelined in the pits for some time, eventually rejoining the race and making it into the final classification.

Long-time Audi professional Cheng Congfu, meanwhile, had locked in a P5 start for new partner Francis Tjia. After a strong start, Tjia pushed hard but struggled to get heat into the tyres, resulting in a trip into the gravel before rejoining the race. Tjia handed the Audi R8 LMS GT3 over Cheng in seventh place for the remaining 90 minutes. The Audi ace burst into the fray and immediately began picking off their rivals. Intent on a claiming a podium finish, Cheng was the fastest man on track for most of the final hour, honing in on third and grabbing the position before the flag.

It was a race of mixed fortunes for the Am-Am pairing of Jiang Jiawei and Bao Jinlong in the sister Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3. Starting from P8, Jiang did a stellar job in his first ever race at GT3 level to get the car up to fourth after the first hour. However, with 45 minutes remaining on the clock, disaster struck when Bao spun and subsequently retired while running in sixth.

The MMK Racing trio of Zhang Zhendong, Mi Qi and Zheng Wancheng had a flawless race, with an unchallenged pole-to-flag run for the Audi RS 3 LMS seeing them take the TCE class victory. The second Audi RS 3 LMS of PMU Leo claimed third in class, despite a spin into the gravel and resulting pit stop.

Round three report

Lining up in P3 for the final race of the CEC season, Francis Tjia stayed out of trouble as the field thundered into the opening laps, dropping a few places but holding firm in seventh for most of his stint. Cheng Congfu took the wheel for the final hour in what was to be, without doubt, the most dramatic stint of the weekend. Pushing to the absolute max, Cheng ploughed through the field to go third and into podium contention with 45 minutes remaining. With the clock against him to close the gap to second, suddenly rain began to fall, forcing the team to decide whether to interrupt his charge to fit wet weather tyres, or risk him continuing his thunderous charge in tricky conditions.

As the rain continued, so did Cheng, obliterating the gap to his rival and crossing the line second overall.

Happily, it was a less eventful race for Absolute Racing’s Jiang Jiawei and Bao Jinlong from their P7 start, the pair driving consistently throughout to fend off all challengers and cross the line sixth overall.

The season finale provided new team YC Racing with the chance to show their undoubted potential. Chen Weian blasted off from P5, and immediately shot into second place, holding the position for his entire stint. With 35 minutes remaining on the clock, and just as the rain drops started to fall, they were caught by the sudden change in grip and a spin disappointingly saw them end their race in the gravel.

While the MMK Racing TCE team began the final race of the weekend from pole, this time their run to victory was interrupted by a brief off-track excursion, where they were joined by the PMU Leo car, meaning they were forced to fight their way back from fourth.

Results
Round 2
GT3
3. Cheng Congfu/Francis Tjia/Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3
8. Chen Weian/Xiao Min/Wu Ruihua/YC Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3
DNF. Jiang Jiawei/Bao Jinlong/Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3
TCE
1. Zhang Zhendong/Mi Qi/Zheng Wancheng/MMK Racing Audi RS 3 LMS
3. Huang Weifu/Wu Yifan/Qiu Wentao/Liu Qi/PMU Leo Audi RS 3 LMS

Round 3
GT3
2. Cheng Congfu/Francis Tjia/Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3
6. Jiang Jiawei/Bao Jinlong/Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3
DNF. Chen Weian/Xiao Min/Wu Ruihua/YC Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3
TCE
1. Zhang Zhendong/Mi Qi/Zheng Wancheng/MMK Racing Audi RS 3 LMS
3. Huang Weifu/Wu Yifan/Yang Xiaowei/Liu Qi/PMU Leo Audi RS 3 LMS