The four Absolute Racing-run Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars were back in action this weekend as the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia resumed at the Hermann Tilke designed 4.554km FIA Grade I Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
- Rump and Tan third in the Silver Cup class
- Pro/Am podium on home turf for Thai duo
- B-Quick wins Am Cup race two
On Saturday morning qualifying sessions, Tan placed the #12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry in fifth place on the grid for race one, while Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup race winner Bhurit Bhirombhakdi was the 11thfastest in the local #59 Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing entry. B-Quik Racing’s Daniel Bilski qualified 16th and Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute’s Sun Jingzu was P20.
The second qualifying sessions saw three Absolute Racing-run R8 LMS GT3 qualify inside the top-six, with the local hero Kantasak Kusiri one spot ahead Audi China ambassador Cheng Congfu, and two in front of Asia Sport Asia driver Martin Rump. Gentleman driver Henk Kiks qualified the yellow B-Quik Racing R8 LMS GT3 in 24th.
Race one took place on Saturday afternoon, and Tan and Rump secured Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute maiden Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia podium. The duo survived to an argy-bargy race one, crossing the finish line in third-place overall. Moving up from seventh to third after the pit stops, Rump spent much of his stint trying to lap a car that was delayed early on. The Estonian finally elbowed his way past with less than five minutes remaining, but he had no time left to make his move to second.
Sunday race was short for Rump and Tan as the #12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute R8 LMS GT3 was shunted out just seconds after the lights went green.
The #13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute R8 LMS GT3 had a weekend to forget in Thailand. Sun and Cheng did not finish race one due to an accident with three laps to go. Then, on Sunday, the story repeated. With just five minutes remaining, Sun was involved in a collision with a competitor.
Guest entry #59 Singha Plan-B by Absolute did well on home turf. However, in race one, Bhirombhakdi dropped to P26 in the opening lap due to a hit from a competitor after the race start. From that point until the chequered flag, the Thai pair fought back to claim a 10thplace finish, fifth in Pro/Am class, leaving the best for the last.
Lining up in fourth on the grid, Kusiri delivered a strong first stint. Bhirombhakdi had built on the opening stint of his teammate to be running third for a while. The Thai privateer was caught out as the race restarted after a late safety car period but finished a strong sixth overall, third in the Pro/Am class.
Back in the field, Thailand Super Series race winners B-Quick Racing had an agitated race one to cross the finish line in 16thplace overall, claiming the last spot in the Am Cup podium on Saturday.
Kiks took the opening stint in race two, starting at the rear of the 24-car GT3 field. The team boss pushed hard all stint and was up to 21stposition by the driver change, third in the Am Cup, when he handed the car to Bilski. The Australian driver managed to climb to 16thplace overall, second in class, when the safety car was called out. In the restart Bilski saw the opportunity to fight for the win, diving up the inside of the Am Cup front-runner in the last lap to take a superb Am Cup win and ninth place overall.
After four out of twelve race, Rump and Tan sit eighth in the overall championship, and fifth in the Silver Cup. In the Pro/Am standings Kusiri and Bhirombhakdi’s second podium of the season sees them moving up to third, while a second Am Cup win of the season puts Bilski and Kiks in second in the category.
The Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia is back next month, this time at the Suzuka circuit (Japan), from June 21 to 23.
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “It was a weekend of mixed feelings. Our Silver Cup pair showed fantastic performance in race one but unfortunately could not shine after the race start crash on Sunday. Even tougher was the weekend of the #13 car, with unfortunate accidents and other upsets. Congratulations to Singha Plan B by Absolute Racing duo. I’m delight with their Pro/Am podium result today. I also have to say that our partners and friends at B-Quik Racing did a very good job this weekend. I’m particularly happy with Daniel’s overtaking move to the lead in the last lap. The whole pit cheered on him. Shame that “Lady Luck” was not with us on a circuit which usually is kind for us. Looking forward for redemption in Suzuka. It is the track where we finished third in the Intercontinental GT Challenge and where our drivers always deliver strong results.”
Michael Schneider (Team Manager): “We had very good pace throughout the whole weekend. Podiums in Overall classification, Pro/Am class and Am Cup show our competitiveness in what is regarded as the toughest sportscar championship in Asia. We head home with many positives on which to build for the rest of the season. We are looking forward to the next race in Suzuka where we hope to improve and achieve even better results.”
RACE WEEKEND RESULTS:
#12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute
Weiron Tan/Martin Rump
Race 1: P3 (3rdSilver Cup)
Race 2: DNF
#13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute
Cheng Congfu/Sun Jingzu
Race 1: DNF
Race 2: P25 (12thPro/Am)
#26 B-Quik Racing
Henk Kiks/Daniel Bilski
Race 1: P21 (3rdAm)
Race 2: P9 (1stAm)
#59 Singha Plan B by Absolute Racing
Bhurit Bhirombhakdi/Kantasak Kusiri
Race 1: P10 (5thPro/Am)
Race 2: P6 (3rdPro/Am)
Photos courtesy of Audi Sport Asia
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