Chang Race 2: Origine reign supreme with Lu and Pilet

Chang Race 2: Origine reign supreme with Lu and Pilet

> Porsche beats Silver-Am winners Hirobon/Kanamaru
> Further class victories for Sathienthirakul/Pieris and Tjiptobiantoro/Wiser 
> Result: Chang Race 2

Lu Wei has scored his and Origine Motorsport’s second victory in three races, and first of the season alongside Porsche star Patrick Pilet, in the second Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS round of the weekend at Chang International Circuit.

The 911 GT3 R started sixth and was a contender throughout the hour-long contest but also took full advantage of misfortune elsewhere to beat 5ZIGEN’s Nissan shared by Hirobon and Yu Kanamaru by 13 seconds.

The latter were the first pairing other than Yuan Bo and Leo Ye Hongli to claim a Silver-Am class victory this year, and also withstood second stint-long pressure from Absolute Racing’s Porsche – featuring Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello – to match 5ZIGEN’s best-ever Fanatec GT Asia result.

Tanart Sathienthirakul stood on the top step of his home event’s podium by winning the Silver class alongside Absolute Racing co-driver Eshan Pieris, while David Tjiptobiantoro and Max Wiser took Am class honours in Garage 75’s Ferrari.

Qualifying form suggested this was Mercedes-AMG’s race to lose after four of its factory drivers started in the top five. And the first of them fell by the wayside almost immediately when Maximilian Goetz picked up a puncture as the front runners bunched at Turn 1.

Kanamaru, who qualified fourth, briefly took the lead but was hauled in by Turn 3 where Maro Engel sailed around the outside of the Nissan, Ralf Aron and pole man Luca Stolz. The latter also lost a position to Pilet in the shake-up that saw the Craft-Bamboo and Climax entries leading 5ZIGEN, Origine and Triple Eight JMR at the end of lap one.

The gaps stabilised at around one second thereafter as Engel kept Aron at arm’s length until the Estonian’s slight mistake allowed Pilet – who’d also dived past the Nissan – plus Kanamaru and Stolz to all pick up a place.

A brave move on the brakes into Turn 1 then helped Triple Eight JMR’s Mercedes-AMG take third as Pilet began reducing his deficit to Engel. 1.4 seconds separated the top two when both swapped with their respective co-drivers, Cao Qi and Lu, at the end of the 10-minute window.

But while those two emerged as they had entered, Triple Eight JMR’s podium chances were undone by a pedal box issue that cost Stolz and Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim one lap. Instead, Climax’s Mercedes-AMG briefly ran third until Hirobon’s 5ZIGEN Nissan passed it halfway around the out-lap.

Ahead, Lu was less than a second behind Qi but didn’t take the lead until the Mercedes-AMG was penalised for a short pitstop. The one-second stop-go penalty relegated Qi and Engel to 12th in the final reckoning.

But there were no such worries for Lu who was able to gap Hirobon once in clean air. Indeed, instead of looking forward, 5ZIGEN’s driver was now more concerned with Liu’s rapidly advancing Porsche, which – in Picariello’s hands – ended the opening stint in sixth. For a while the 911 looked to have the upper hand, but Hirobon recovered to eventually edge 1.2s clear.

Yuan and Ye might have lost their 100% Silver-Am record but second in class and fourth overall represented another excellent result for Origine’s other Porsche, and especially considering it started 21st.

The same is true for Saturday’s winners Ruo Han Huang and Markus Winkelhock (Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute) who overcame the maximum 15-second success penalty to finish fifth overall and complete Pro-Am’s top three.

Silver class winner Sathienthirakul passed Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak’s AAS Phantom entry on the final tour to round out the top six after the Porsche he shares with Pieris started only 20th. That same train of cars also featured Absolute Corse’s Ferrari, the erstwhile championship-leading FAW Audi and KRC’s BMW which dropped from eighth to 10th on the last lap.

Further back, Tjiptobiantoro and Wiser made amends for missing out on yesterday’s Am class victory by just six tenths by beating AMAC’s Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter to top spot. B-Quik Absolute’s Henk Kiks and Rodney Jane completed the podium.

Chang’s race results were especially good for Porsche, which is chasing Mercedes-AMG in the global Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS standings. A total of three class wins across both days has helped it close to within 200 points – a relatively small number by series standards – before the battle resumes in Europe and America next weekend.

Lu also returned to the top of Fanatec GT Asia’s drivers’ championship after dropping behind Cheng and Fong yesterday. He now leads them by 10 points, while Yuan and Ye’s consistency leaves them third.

SRO’s new standalone Japan Cup begins at Sugo on June 7-9 before the same championship joins Fanatec GT Asia at Fuji on June 21-23.