Podium celebrations at Buriram
Absolute Racing drivers returned to the Blancpain GT Series Asia podium in a thrilling weekend at the Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, a stunning 4,554km FIA Grade 1 circuit designed by renowned track architect Hermann Tilke just hours away from the capital of Bangkok, which attracted 26,000 fans over the weekend.
Saturday’s Qualifying one saw Martin Rump recording an imposing third fastest time, while Anthony Liu completed the top-six aboard Absolute Racing’s second Audi R8 LMS. Still adapting to the car Andrew Kim qualified P13.
In Qualifying two Adderly Fong was an early contender for the pole position but the Hong Kong driver ended up 0.354s shy of pole in third. Sepang pole-sitter Josh Burdon made it an all-Absolute Racing second row for race two after lapping a tenth slow of his teammate Fong. Cheng Congfu qualified in P13 but the Chinese ace has had reasons to celebrate later in the day.
Saturday came to an end with Congfu and Rump securing their first overall podium of the season. Rump was entrusted with starting duties but the things did not go according to the plan in the beginning. The Estonian dropped to sixth at one point, although he was back up to fifth before the compulsory pit-stop window.
The team’s strategy of keeping Rump in the car as long as possible paid off. Cheng received the car in fourth and an opponent’s penalty opened the door to the maiden overall podium of the season for the #3 Audi R8 LMS pair.
Cheng and Rump were not the only Absolute Racing drivers to visit the podium on Saturday as teammates Kim and Fong finished third in the Pro-Am category, ninth overall, four places ahead of where the #7 Audi R8 LMS started.
Serving an additional 10s success penalty for finishing second overall in Round 2 at Sepang, Josh Burdon and Anthony Liu rounded off the top-10.
And the good news for the team continued in race two on Sunday. Round 4 saw another strong and clean performance by Cheng and Rump to take third in the Silver Cup, fifth overall, after serving a 5s handicap for finishing third overall on Saturday race. The #3 Audi R8 LMS pair now sit fourth in the overall GT3 standings and second in the Silver Cup.
Track limits came under strong scrutiny over the weekend. Liu and Burdon were one of the many crews to serve a penalty en route to seventh overall in the second 60-minute race. Still, the #37 Paragon Water Systems duo took a much-deserved podium in the Pro-Am category and they now sit second in the category standings, just four points off the lead, and seventh overall.
A muscular start by Fong hit an early setback when Fong he was also given a drive-through penalty for exceeding the track limits. The #7 Audi R8 LMS duo finished 15th, collecting points for seventh in the Pro-Am class. They now lie in sixth in their category standings.
Commenting about the weekend, Team Director, Fabien Fior, said, “We can be satisfied with this weekend results. At the end we managed to get one car onto the overall podium in race one and our three cars into class podiums. If we didn’t have the penalties in the second race the final result of the weekend could have been even better. After two race weekends, we are in contention for the overall and class titles and that means we can look forward with confidence to the rest of the season. We want to keep the momentum going and keep ticking off things as we go along.”
The championship will now head to Suzuka International Circuit for the first of the two Japanese consecutive double-header races on June 30 and July 1.
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