Chang Race 1: Huang and Winkelhock lead home Absolute team-mates Yu and Nandy

Chang Race 1: Huang and Winkelhock lead home Absolute team-mates Yu and Nandy

> FAW’s Cheng and Fong complete Audi podium sweep
> Class wins for Yu/Nandy, Yuan/Ye and Hamaguchi/Okura
> Result: Race 1

Audi Sport Asia and Absolute Racing enjoyed a Red Letter Day this afternoon at Chang International Circuit where Huang Ruo Han and Markus Winkelhock scored their maiden Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS victories in front of team-mates and Silver class winners James Yu and Akash Nandy.

And there was further joy for Ingolstadt thanks to Franky Cheng and Adderly Fong who maintained their early season momentum - and took the championship lead - by completing the podium in FAW’s Phantom Global Racing-run R8 despite significant late race pressure from Alessio Picariello and Leo Ye Hongli.

The latter and his Origine Motorsport co-driver Yuan Bo scored a third Silver-Am win in as many races, while Eshan Pieris and home favourite Tanart Sathienthirakul added sixth place overall to Absolute’s first, second and fourth positions.

Further back, Mineki Okura held off the hard charging Max Wiser to clinch Am class victory with his Spirit of FFF Racing co-driver Hiroshi Hamaguchi. Just 0.6s separated the Audi and Ferrari at the finish.

The opening stint was fairly sedate by Fanatec GT Asia standards, pole man Yu settling into a comfortable but never dominant lead over fellow front row starter Ryo Ogawa (LMcorsa), Cheng and Huang whose order also remained unchanged. Behind, Sathienthirakul passed Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim to run fifth.

That remained unchanged until the pit window opened after 25 minutes when the Am contingent headed by Huang stopped at the first opportunity. The Silver drivers ahead continued for several more laps before also relaying with their co-drivers, and when the order shook out it was Nandy still leading but with Winkelhock closing in.

A factory driver without Silver class ballast was always likely to prevail, and so it proved at Turn 3 with 15 minutes left on the clock. Winkelhock then pulled clear to win by six seconds, while Nandy enjoyed an untroubled run to second overall and class victory.

That was partly thanks to the scrap that developed behind as Picariello – whose co-driver Anthony Liu had pitted from sixth – closed down Fong. Their game of attack versus defence also brought Ye into play, and it was the Origine Porsche that appeared to have gained the upper hand when the Audi and other 911 ran each other wide exiting Turn 5 on the penultimate lap. The trio went three-wide through the following corner before Fong regained the advantage once and for all at T7.

Picariello also found a way back past Ye before the chequered flag, but fifth overall was still enough for the latter and Yuan to win Silver-Am.

LMcorsa’s challenge faded after the pitstops, Shigekazu Wakisaka crossing the line seventh overall behind Pieris after fending off Luca Stolz over the closing laps. The Triple Eight JMR Mercedes-AMG, which starts on pole tomorrow, was earlier involved in an altercation with AAS Phantom’s Porsche for which Bastian Buus received a drive-through penalty.

Climax’s Mercedes-AMG shared by Min Heng and Jaylyn Robotham finished ninth, one place ahead of 5ZIGEN’s charging Nissan that climbed 11 places courtesy of Hirobon and Yu Kanamaru.

Race 2 goes green at 10:45 tomorrow. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.