Absolute Racing has made the perfect start to its Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia campaign by claiming pole positions for both of this weekend’s races after its #912 Porsche shared by Yuan Bo and Dennis Olsen set the fastest times in both 15-minute qualifying sessions earlier today.
However, the qualifying pace of its Bronze-graded amateur compared with the established Silvers, plus a close examination of the driver’s performance throughout practice, has prompted the SRO Sporting Panel to exceptionally add 35 seconds to the #912 Porsche’s Race 1 and 2 minimum pitstop times in accordance with Article 1.6.5.
Meanwhile, 2018 GT4 championship runners-up Sunako Jukuchou and Takayuki Kinoshita also gave BMW Team Studie’s M4s a clean sweep of class pole positions.
It was Absolute Racing’s #911 entry driven by Tanart Sathienthirakul that initially led the opening session before Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak jumped ahead. However, the Panther/AAS Motorsports driver’s time at the top was short-lived after his Thai compatriot then lapped 0.161s faster.
Bo was at that point fourth behind Weiron Tan but made his move with three minutes remaining by lapping in 2m04.883s. That was 0.166s faster than the best-placed Silver-graded driver, Sathienthirakul, whose time was good enough to secure Absolute Racing’s Porsches a front row lock-out.
Inthraphuvasak and Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Racing’s Tan will share row two ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s lead Mercedes-AMG driven by Darryl O’Young and Yuya Sakamoto’s HubAuto Corsa Ferrari.
MG Choi, David Chen, Alex Au and Sun Jingzu completed the top-10, while OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia finished fastest of the Am Cup contenders.
Meanwhile, BMW Team Studie and Sunako Jukuchou stated their intent by claiming a commanding GT4 pole position. The Japanese driver’s 2m17.309s was the class’ fastest of the weekend so far.
Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Frank Yu lines up second on his championship return after lapping just 0.014s faster than Brian Lee’s GTO Racing with TTR Mercedes-AMG. Team iRace.Win completed the top-five.
It was once again all about Absolute Racing’s #912 Porsche in GT3’s second 15-minute session, although only after a red flag period hindered the progress of others.
Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Racing’s Martin Rump topped the times before the enforced interval caused by OpenRoad Racing’s Porsche, which prevented several drivers – including the Estonian and fellow early pace-setter Jazeman Jaafar – from completing faster laps.
Jaafar jumped ahead of Rump after the session resumed with eight minutes remaining, but was quickly pushed back to second by Olsen’s 2m03.934s. The Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG was unable to respond and fell further down the order when Panther/AAS Motorsport’s Alex Imperatori and Mathias Beche locked out the first three places for Porsche in the closing stages. Imperatori finished 0.180s behind Olsen and just 0.094s ahead of the Modena Motorsports entry.
Rump starts fifth after also failing to improve, while Absolute Racing’s Carrera Cup Asia graduate Philip Hamprecht made it four Porsches inside the overall top-six.
Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Alessio Picariello and Melvin Moh share row four ahead of Frederik Schandorff’s VSR Lamborghini and Chris van der Drift’s JRM Porsche.
Elsewhere, AMAC Motorsport’s Ben Porter was fastest of the five-car Am Cup field.
GT4 honours were once again taken by BMW Team Studie who made it two from two courtesy of Takayuki Kinoshita. The Japanese driver was five tenths shy of team-mate Jukuchou’s Q1 time but still 1.6s clear of Ringo Chong’s Team iRace.Win Mercedes-AMG.
Craft-Bamboo’s Jean-Marc Merlin completed the top-three, while Alan Yeo’s final lap moved iRace.Win’s second Mercedes-AMG up to fourth ahead of Tony Fong.
The weekend’s first 60-minute race starts at 16:15 today. Watch it live on the championship’s website and Facebook page, SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, and across China on Youku, SMG, Douyu and Huya.