> Pitstop strategy overturns AAS/Absolute and R&B's advantage
> Heavy rain delays race start by one hour
> Result: Race 1
Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Luca Stolz began their Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS campaign with victory in Race 1 at Chang International Circuit this evening after their Triple Eight JMR team took advantage of improving track conditions by stopping earlier in the pit window.
Stolz crossed the line 9.1s ahead of the AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing Porsche shared by local favourite Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak and Alessio Picariello who relieved R&B Racing’s Porsche of second place soon after the pitstops.
Its starting driver, Yuan Bo, enjoyed a brilliant opening lap by moving from fourth to first in the wettest of the conditions before pulling clear of Inthraphuvasak. The Thai held station in second while Ling Kang (Phantom Pro Racing) made amends for his three-place grid drop by also passing pole-man Ibrahim who was swamped after spending two laps behind the Safety Car.
But R&B’s Porsche would ultimately drop to third overall after Triple Eight JMR stopped halfway through the 10-minute pit window. #88 immediately benefitted from the combination of slick tyres on a damp but rapidly drying track, as well as the talent of Mercedes-AMG driver Stolz who turned a 14s deficit into a 10s lead by the time R&B, AAS/Absolute and Phantom Pro swapped their drivers.
Overall victory might have slipped away but Yuan and his co-driver Leo Ye Hongli can still be satisfied with an overall podium, Silver class victory and maximum Fanatec China Cup points.
They were pushed all the way by Climax Racing’s Mercedes-AMG. Zhou Bihuang started seventh but was up to fifth by the pit window after Anthony Liu (Craft-Bamboo Racing) collected a penalty for spinning Bao Jinlong (Absolute Racing) around. Phantom Pro’s decision to fit wet tyres instead of slicks gained Dennis Lind another place before the former champion set consecutive fastest laps in pursuit of Ye. Just 0.3s separated them at the finish.
Wei Lu and Dennis Olsen charged from 12th to fifth after Wei climbed six places during his stint. But that was nothing compared to Bao and Alex Imperatori who completed the top-six despite dropping to 19th after being spun around on the first lap of racing.
Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura (Porsche Center Okazaki) were seventh, the best of the Audis came home eighth courtesy of Andrew Haryanto and James Yu (Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute), and Kevin Chen/Jens Klingmann were ninth for GH-Team AAI and BMW.
Liu and Fabian Schiller recovered from their early penalty to round out the point scoring positions.
Race 2 goes green at 11:00 on Sunday. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.