> Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Racing and ARN Racing start season finale up front
> GTO Racing with TTR’s Lee and BMW Team Studie’s Jukuchou take GT4 pole apiece
> Provisional results: GT3 Q1 | GT3 Q2 | GT4 Q1 | GT4 Q2
All five championship contenders will start in the top-seven positions later today at Shanghai following qualifying for 2019’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season finale.
Weiron Tan and Martin Rump must win both races this weekend to stand any chance of stealing the crown. And it was the latter who ensured Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Racing will start Race 1 up front by topping GT3’s first 15-minute session. Meanwhile, Yuta Kamimura’s blistering Q2 time secured ARN’s Porsche pole position for tomorrow’s race after the Japanese driver out-paced the usual factory suspects.
In GT4, Brian Lee will hope his pole position can lead GTO Racing with TTR to a maiden class victory this afternoon, while Sunako Jukuchou – who races solo this weekend – will have the upper hand over former BMW Team Studie co-driver and now-title rival Takayuki Kinoshita after topping Q2.
GT3: TITLE CONTENDERS CONVERGE
The season finale’s first race this afternoon couldn’t be more finely poised when Martin Rump leads away a top-seven featuring all five championship contenders.
The Estonian, who must win both races while also relying on his rivals to slip up, kept his end of the bargain by heading a front row also featuring Tanart Sathienthirakul. The Thai, who shares his Absolute Racing Porsche with Philip Hamprecht, couldn’t quite overhaul the Audi after finishing 0.159s shy at the end of a hugely entertaining first session.
Yuya Sakamoto also kept himself in the mix by qualifying HubAuto Corsa’s Ferrari a similar margin behind the Porsche, while Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak limited some of the damage of his impending 15s Pitstop Success Penalty by qualifying fastest of the Am contingent in fourth.
Both he and Sakamoto start today’s race 19 points behind championship leader MG Choi (Solite Indigo Racing) who offered his rivals renewed hope by qualifying only seventh. The Korean therefore starts behind TSRT’s David Chen – the best placed Chinese driver – and fellow countryman Chris On Chia who starts an excellent sixth on his and Phantom Pro Racing’s series debut.
Another Chinese team making their championship bow, Zun Motorsport Crew, completed the top-eight thanks to Adderly Fong.
This afternoon’s race will decide who remains in title contention tomorrow, but one thing is already certain: none of the potential champions start inside the top-six.
Indeed, the faster second session – which featured many more Pro drivers and a top-15 covered by one second – ended with a surprise first-time pole position for ARN Racing and Yuta Kamimura who shocked the establishment with his blistering 2m05.155s.
Chris van der Drift lead at half-distance before the expected big hitters switched to fresh rubber. But only Kamimura – who set his time long before the others – could topple the JRM Porsche’s time.
Frederik Schandorff was also impressive en route to third after improving late on, VSR’s Lamborghini heading a cluster of cars that swapped places as the clock ticked down. Franky Cheng (Absolute Racing Audi), Alessio Picariello (Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG) and Leo Ye Hongli (Absolute Racing Porsche) completed the top-six.
Behind, Inthraphuvasak’s Panther/AAS Motorsport co-driver Alex Imperatori finished fastest of the championship-chasing contingent by pipping Hamprecht to seventh. HubAuto’s Ferrari starts 11th in the hands of Marcos Gomes, Indigo are 14th, and Weiron Tan 17th.
GT4: LEE AND JUKUCHOU ON TOP
2019’s GT4 title battle has been renewed by BMW Team Studie splitting its former co-drivers Takayuki Kinoshita and Sunako Jukuchou for the final round. Only the Japanese duo, who race solo for the first time this weekend, remain in championship contention, and it was the latter that won the intra team battle during both qualifying sessions.
However, Q1 belonged to Brian Lee who set the fastest individual time across both sessions to claim pole position for GTO Racing with TTR and Mercedes-AMG. His 2m18.005s was 0.3s quicker than Jukuchou could manage after the BMW initially held sway.
Setiawan Santoso (Team iRace.Win) and Jean-Marc Merlin (Craft-Bamboo) slotted in behind, while Keo Chang beat Kinoshita to fifth.
That result served as a wake-up call for the championship contender who improved to third in Q2. However, his rival Jukuchou also stepped up to wrestle pole away from practice pace-setter Ringo Chong.
Joe Chi, Tony Fong and Douglas Khoo completed the top-six.
Race 1 starts at 16:15 CST (GMT +8) this afternoon. Watch it live on the championship’s website and Facebook page, SRO’s GT World Youtube channel and all major Chinese streaming platforms.
优酷 (Youku): http://vku.youku.com/live/ilproom?id=8022998
虎牙 (Huya): https://www.huya.com/880215
斗鱼 (Douyu): https://www.douyu.com/6872751