Podiums for Absolute Racing’s Teams in Suzuka
- Mixed feelings for podium finisher OD Racing
- J-Fly scores first overall podium
- Second consecutive pole-position for Picariello
Shanghai, 25th June 2017 – Racing serviced teams have completed the third round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia with another strong performance, as J-Fly by Absolute Racing and OD Racing Team stepped onto podium at Suzuka Circuit this weekend.
The Absolute Racing four Audi R8 LMS squadron has started the weekend in great style securing a front row start for the second race of the weekend.
J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s Alessio Picariello maintained his perfect Blancpain GT Series Asia qualifying record by beating the fellow Absolute Racing-run Audis driven by OD Racing Team’s Mitch Gilbert and Milestone Racing’s Franky Cheng Congfu to pole in the second qualifying session. Picariello whose 2m01.851s would remain the fastest time of the weekend was 0.379s quicker than his OD Racing rival could manage. Singha Plan-B Motorsport’s Kantasak Kusiri improved in his final laps to sixth ensuring that all four Absolute Racing serviced cars lined up nicely within the top six.
In the first qualifying OD Racing’s Aditya Patel was fastest in the team, qualifying second overall for Saturday’s race one. J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s Jeffrey Lee qualified P13, Singha Plan-B Motorsport’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi P14 and Milestone Racing’s Sun Jiangzu P17. But the best was yet to come.
On Saturday’s race, Patel dropped one position in the start, holding the third place until the pitstop. By serving a pitstop success penalty the OD Racing’s R8 LMS lost one more position. Gilbert had to work hard to get back the last podium position, which he did with three laps to go.
Speaking about his race, Patel said, “On my stint I made sure Mitch had something to work with. When he dropped to fourth we all stopped looking at the screens, but then someone said he was back up to third so we thought we should start looking again!”
Meanwhile it was another solid performance from the Singha Plan-B Motorsport rookies, with the Thai racers finishing P11 overall and P6 in the GT3 Pro-Am Class.
J-Fly by Absolute Racing, who copped a penalty for speeding in the pitlane, claimed a P13 overall and a P7 in the GT3 Pro-Am category. Milestone Racing has been in contention for a top-ten place finish until an accident prevented them to finish the race.
On Sunday, following an aborted start the race two began with cars running slick tyres on an increasingly damp track.
From the second place in the grid, Gilbert took the start for OD Racing. The Malaysian born race fought hard to hold position, and dived into the pits from 4th position to hand the car over to Patel in wet conditions. Patel drove well and seized the lead and began to pull a comfortable gap to the cars behind. With 15 minutes to go, as he began to get comfortable, bad luck struck again and a tyre blowout ended the team’s efforts.
Starting from the pole position Picariello held on to the lead. The pit window opened on 25 minutes and J-Fly by Absolute Racing opted to swap onto wet weather tyres at the first opportunity. Lee took the wheel but struggling with the tyres towards the end, he had to set for third overall. “Our pace was pretty consistent throughout the race. It’s great to be on the Pro/Am podium again, which is our main objective this season”, said Lee, who was second in the GT3 Pro-Am Class at the flag.
Singha Plan-B Motorsport had another faultless race from start to finish. Kusiri and Bhurit B. kept out of trouble throughout the 23 laps competition to take the chequered flag in P11, fifth in the GT3 Pro-Am Class.
Milestone Racing had an eventful race. Cheng was hit from behind and had to pit for repairs. They were the first to fit wet tyres but it didn’t turn around the fortune of the team. Cheng and Sun eventually finished in P17, seventh in the GT3 Pro Am Class.
Team Manager, Michael Schneider said: “The performance of the whole team was great this weekend and we have pocketed two podiums! In this highly competitive grid, the result of the second qualifying, with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th places, was outstanding!
Because of the changing weather conditions the second race was a big challenge, but we managed it right and the mechanics did a great job in the pit stops! Of course the puncture of Aditya and Mitch was disappointing, especially as they were leading the race with a comfortable gap. It could have been a perfect weekend!
Congratulations to Alessio who managed to lead the race in these tricky conditions and particularly to Jeffrey, who showed an impressive pace in the wet and secured the podium position! Also congratulations to Mitch and Aditya who finished on the podium on Saturday’s race!”
OD Racing duo are now third in the GT3 overall standings, while Jeffrey Lee is second in the GT3 Pro-Am Class.
The Blancpain GT Series Asia now takes one-month break and returns with rounds seven and eight at the Fuji Speedway on August 19/20.