> Imperatori and Chong fastest on opening day of season finale
> Result: Free Practice
A late flyer from Alex Imperatori helped Panther/AAS Motorsport top opening practice at Shanghai earlier today ahead of this weekend’s season finale and championship showdown.
Missing a round mid-season has prevented the Swiss from challenging for this year’s title. However, his co-driver – Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak – arrived in China just 19 points behind championship leader MG Choi who, on this evidence, will be keeping one eye on the #918 Porsche that ended first practice 0.6s faster than anyone else.
Alessio Picariello led at half-distance after the first round of flying laps but was replaced with 15 minutes remaining by Franky Cheng. Imperatori’s subsequent 2m06.329s ultimately pushed Absolute Racing’s Audi into second ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s #88 Mercedes-AMG and Anstone Racing’s Naoki Yokomizo whose early lap remained good enough for fourth.
Keita Sawa ensured ABSSA’s McLaren was one of four manufacturers to finish inside the overall top-five, while Chris van der Drift (JRM) beat Shane van Gisbergen (Triple Eight) to sixth. T2 Motorsports’ Ferrari completed the top-eighth courtesy of Rio Haryanto.
The best of this weekend’s debutants, Phantom Pro Racing, and Craft-Bamboo’s #55 Mercedes-AMG rounded out the top-10. But there was disappointment for championship leader Choi (Indigo Racing) who ended up 20th.
In GT4, Team iRace.Win’s Ringo Chong finished fastest on a 2m18.581s. That was one second quicker than Sunako Jukuchou who goes head-to-head with Takayuki Kinoshita for the class Drivers’ title this weekend.
The BMW Team Studie duo, who are racing separately at the final round after sharing the same M4 all season, are the only contenders still capable of winning the GT4 crown. 0.224s separated them in first practice.
Qualifying and the weekend’s first race take place on Friday. Watch both live on the championship’s website, Facebook page, GT World Youtube channel and Chinese streaming platforms.