> Korean team and driver start Race 1 up front
> Craft-Bamboo’s Goetz beats Van Gisbergen to Race 2 pole
> Team Studie’s Jukuchou and iRace.Win’s Santoso share GT4 spoils
> Result: Yeongam Qualifying
Solite Indigo Racing’s MG Choi boosted his Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia title chances by taking pole position on home soil for this weekend’s opening race at Korea International Circuit. A Mercedes-AMG also starts tomorrow’s hour-long contest up front after Craft-Bamboo’s Maxi Goetz beat Shane van Gisbergen to top spot during a scintillating second qualifying session.
In GT4, Sunako Jukuchou edged out Frank Yu to seal Race 1 pole position for BMW Team Studie, while iRace.Win’s Mercedes-AMG driven by Setiawan Santoso set the fastest time of the weekend thus far during the class’ second 15-minute session.
GT3: MERCEDES-AMG SWEEP QUALIFYING THANKS TO CHOI AND GOETZ
Indigo Racing stole the show in the first qualifying session by claiming a popular pole position on home soil.
MG Choi needed just one lap to get the job done at a venue he and the team know well. His 2m08.798s was ultimately 0.2s faster than Absolute Racing’s championship leader Tanart Sathienthirakul who bagged a place on the front row after seeing his first effort deleted for a track limits infringement.
The Mercedes-AMG and Porsche were followed by an Audi, which – in David Chen’s hands – remained a top-three contender throughout. Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT’s R8 was briefly on the front row before Sathienthirakul improved, but had to settle for third alongside leading amateur Anthony Liu who ensured JRM’s 911 qualified just 0.015s behind Chen and an impressive 0.4s shy of Choi’s pole time.
HubAuto’s Ferrari was next up courtesy of Yuya Sakamoto, who also remains a championship contender, while a late improvement wasn’t quite sufficient to move Weiron Tan – who will serve the full 15s Pitstop Success Penalty this afternoon for winning at Fuji – ahead of the 488.
Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak and Yuan Bo made it an all-Porsche row four ahead of Christina Nielsen and ABSSA’s McLaren driven by Piti Bhirombhakdi.
The second session, which decided the grid for Sunday’s race, was far more frenetic, not least due to several track limits offences that saw the leaderboard in a constant state of change as fast times were deleted.
Triple Eight’s Shane van Gisbergen set the quickest time of anyone across the three practice sessions and looked to have sewn up pole position with a time 0.5s faster than that.
By contrast, Maxi Goetz took his time getting up to speed before unleashing the weekend’s fastest legal lap – 2m07.442s – halfway through the 15-minute session. That was 0.286s faster than Van Gisbergen who subsequently set an incredible time that was chalked off for a track limits offence.
The Mercedes-AMGs of Craft-Bamboo and Triple Eight therefore share the front row ahead of Alex Imperatori who closed to within 0.426s on his second run in the Panther/AAS Motorsport Porsche.
Behind, positions four through eight were only settled in the closing minutes. Manuel Metzger recovered from a track limits offence to add a fourth place to co-driver Choi’s Race 1 pole, while Leo Ye Hongli was the best of Absolute’s Porsches in fifth. His time was just 0.023s under that of Franky Cheng (Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Racing) and another 0.001s clear of VSR’s Frederik Schandorff who appeared as high as third at one point.
That late flurry relegated Marcos Gomes’ HubAuto Corsa Ferrari and the JRM Porsche driven by Chris van der Drift to eighth and ninth, while Martin Rump was another to fall foul of Race Control’s strict track limits standards before salvaging 10th.
GT4: SANTOSO STUNS TEAM STUDIE
Team Studie have become accustomed to qualifying on pole this year, and added another in the first 15-minute session thanks to Sunako Jukuchou. However, the scale of his advantage, or rather lack of it, served notice of what was to come.
Indeed, the Japanese driver qualified just 0.122s ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s Frank Yu and GTO Racing with TTR’s Brian Lee thanks to a late effort that topped a session covered by 0.5s.
And Q2 looked set to end in familiar fashion when Jukuchou’s co-driver, Takayuki Kinoshita, held top spot with moments remaining. Studie were so sure of pole that their M4 was called into the pits just as Santoso began winding up for his final lap. And what a lap it was: 2m22.771s, which would have also been sufficient to top the Q1 timesheets.
Kinoshita finished 0.4s behind Team iRace.Win’s Mercedes-AMG and 0.6s clear of championship returnee Richard Wee, who produced an excellent lap in his Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG.
This weekend’s first 60-minute race begins at 15:40 today.