Successful Charity Cup event launches GT World Challenge Asia Esports Presented by Tarmac Works

29 August 2020

> Evan Chen triumphs in action-packed Real-PRO & AM race
> No stopping Joseph De Jesus IV in polished Sim-PRO & AM contest
> Standalone event raises funds for Save The Children
> Results: Real-PRO & AM | Sim-PRO & AM

GT World Challenge Asia Esports Presented by Tarmac Works joined the sim racing revolution today (29 August) as a pair of highly competitive Charity Cup contests played out at Suzuka.

The event featured real-world and sim drivers competing on Assetto Corsa Competizione – the official game of GT World Challenge Powered by AWS – while also raising funds for Save The Children Asia. Proceedings began with a frenetic Real-PRO & AM race, which saw some of the continent's top GT talents locking horns in the virtual world.

Hong Kong-based racer Dan Wells started the one-hour contest from pole in his Lamborghini but was immediately relegated to second by the fast-starting Melvin Moh (Mercedes-AMG). After running close behind through the opening half of the lap Wells dived up the inside at Spoon Curve, tipping his rival into a spin. 

This briefly allowed the Porsche of Evan Chen to snatch the lead, only for Wells to once again resume his position at the head of the order. But Chen was by no means finished with the Lamborghini man and spent much of the opening half-hour challenging for the lead.

With 30 minutes on the clock Chen made his move, getting a run exiting the final corner after the Lamborghini was baulked by a lapped car entering the pits. The Porsche sailed past and into the lead, while Wells remained close through the S Curves. Once again there was contact, with Chen sent pirouetting into the run-off while Wells continued. 

The Lamborghini entered the pits soon after to undertake its mandatory stop, but it was here that Wells' luck ran out as a speeding penalty cost him significant time. Having recovered from his off-track excursion, Chen now found himself in the box seat. 

He did not inherit the lead immediately, however, as Dominic Ang elected to run very deep into the race aboard his Mercedes-AMG. Though not enough to put him in contention for victory the tactic appeared to have paid off. After making his stop Ang was set for the final step of the podium, but like Wells his hopes were scuppered by a speeding penalty. 

Out front Chen was in the clear and took the chequered flag by more than 10 seconds from Duvashen Padayachee (Mercedes-AMG), who ran a quiet and efficient race amid the drama that unfolded at the front. The same could be said for third-place man Matt Solomon (Mercedes-AMG), who completed the podium ahead of the penalised duo of Wells and Ang.

Antares Au emerged at the top of the AM class, finishing a strong seventh overall in his Porsche after leapfrogging Nan Lin (Mercedes-AMG) during the pit stops. Naoto Takeda also showed well in his BMW and led during the first half of the race after passing Lin, but faded during the latter stages. Kevin Tse completed the top-three AM runners in his Mercedes-AMG.

The Sim-PRO & AM race featured less drama and more flat-out competition as the experienced Assetto Corsa Competizione racers – both invitees and qualifiers – produced a polished performance around the 5.8km Suzuka circuit. 

Joseph De Jesus IV began from pole in his Mercedes-AMG and made a clean start to hold the advantage into the opening sequence of corners. Behind him were a trio of cars from the Laundry House team, with Karl Petersen at the wheel of a Mercedes while both Terry Rayton and Andrew drove Porsches. What’s more, the entire top-four consisted of Sim-AM class runners. 

There was little to choose between this quartet during the opening half of the race, though the order remained unchanged until cars began to make their mandatory stops around the half-way mark. Rayton ducked in first, followed by Jesus and then the duo of Petersen and Laurenson. Crucially, Rayton's decision to stop early would cost him a spot to Laurenson.

Meanwhile, at the head of the field, Zheng Yin (Mercedes-AMG) and the Yat Lam Law (BMW) ran long and engaged in a personal battle that saw Law make a crucial pass for position. The leading Sim-PRO participant, Zheng, was the first to stop with just seven minutes left on the clock; Law waited even longer to hit pit road, finally diving in with just five minutes to run. The BMW driver's on-track pass would prove crucial as he emerged in fifth position, just 1.5s ahead of Zheng.

De Jesus IV retook the lead and, with an advantage of more than four seconds, secured an accomplished race victory. Petersen took second, while behind him the battle for the final podium spot raged until the final lap. Rayton was visibly determined to recover third and had to catch his 911 on more than one occasion as the rear snapped loose. Ultimately his efforts were not enough as Laurenson clinched third by just a few tenths of a second.

The battle for fifth was even closer as Zheng drew alongside Law on the run to the chequered flag. It was the BMW driver that took the position – though his advantage was just 0.001s at the line. Zheng was able to claim the mantle of top Sim-PRO finisher, followed by Li Kin Long (Mercedes-AMG) and Yuki Shirakawa (Ferrari).

Today’s standalone Charity Cup race acts as a prelude to the five-round GT World Challenge Asia Esports Presented by Tarmac Works Championship, which begins on October 6 at Monza. The series will then move to another trio of iconic venues – Laguna Seca, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps – before returning home for a deciding race at Suzuka on December 8.