While the conclusion of the season may not have unfolded according to Absolute Racing's ideal script, the team found numerous reasons to celebrate during the climactic weekend of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS season at Malaysia's prestigious 5.543km Sepang International Circuit.
Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak arrived in Malaysia with a chance of battling for the GT3 Overall drivers' title. However, the Thai driver's hopes were dashed in the opening lap of the first race when an accident forced the #911 AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (Type 992) to retire with damage to the car.
On the other side of the garage, Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute rounded out the 2023 season in style when Audi Sport Asia junior James Yu Kuai and Andrew Haryanto secured a magnificent overall victory in the penultimate race of the year. Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Pro-Am pair Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu clinched the Fanatec China Cup title with a race in hand, while B-Quik Absolute Racing celebrated podium appearances twice in both races, with both their Bronze drivers' car and their Silver crew achieving this notable feat.
The winner of the prestigious 12 Hours of Sepang race, Haryanto, astounded all by clinching a remarkable pole position for the first race. Despite the added challenge of carrying 40kg of ballast as guest driver, B-Quik Absolute Racing's Akash Nandy proved his mettle by securing the fourth-fastest time in Q1. Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak kept the flame of his championship aspirations alive with a commendable seventh-place qualifying effort, while the #911 Absolute Racing driver Bao Jinlong concluded the top 10 contenders.
In the second qualifying session, Cheng Cong emerged as the highest-performing driver among the Absolute Racing-managed cars, securing a seventh-place overall position.
Klaus Bachler, who returned to the cockpit of the #911 machine after an impressive outing in Suzuka, earned a ninth-place qualifying result. James Yu positioned the iconic rubber-rabbit-liveried Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II in the 15th spot.
Season debutant Edoardo Mortara faced some challenges, with four of his lap times disqualified for exceeding track limits, ultimately placing the #992 Year of the Rabbit car in the 21st position.
Saturday afternoon's opening race showcased Andrew Haryanto's impressive defensive skills as he successfully maintained his lead into the first corner, while a stroke of misfortune struck Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, who found himself heavily impacted after a spin in the midst of the first corners confusion.
The race, marked by a red flag interruption, saw the formidable Indonesian amateur driver retaining his pole position advantage throughout his entire stint. Andrew Haryanto's adept management of two restarts solidified his position at the front of the pack, while the remarkably talented 25-year-old James Yu delivered an exceptional performance, outshining some of the most seasoned professional drivers in the international GT competition.
Bao Jinlong had a strong start to the race, swiftly ascending into the top five. Teammate Edoardo Mortara actively engaged in the battle for a podium finish but ultimately settled for fifth place.
Meanwhile, the #13 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry, driven by the duo of Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu, employed a prudent approach and crossed the finish line in 16th position. This result proved more than sufficient for the Chinese duo to secure the coveted Fanatec China Cup championship.
It was anticipated that our team would face a challenging task in this final race of the 2023 season. From the back of the field, the Porsche driver first, and his teammate Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak after, demonstrated immense determination and resilience as they executed a breathtaking performance, surging from the rear of the field to achieve an exceptional sixth-place finish at the checkered flag.
Equally astonishing was the race comeback of "Edo" Mortara and Bao Jinlong, who started from a challenging P21 position. They fought their way to a well-deserved seventh-place finish at the finish line.
James Yu was running in the mid-field when he made a pit stop, with the Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute car subject to an additional 15-second success pit stop due to their victory in race one. His teammate Andrew Haryanto emerged with determination, overtaking rivals and advancing up the order, showcasing the Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II's impressive pace and crossing the finish line in 13th place. This placed him one position ahead of the blue Audi driven by Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu.
Podiums for B-Quik Absolute Racing in Sepang
An excellent weekend at Sepang International Circuit as B-Quik Absolute Racing joined the closing round of Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia by powered AWS with two cars, netting superb results. In fact, both cars finished in the podium positions in their respective classes in both races, holding their own in a bumper-sized, world-class field.
For this race, where the team would be rubbing shoulders with a star-studded entry list, the usual Thailand Super Series driver roster was switched around.
Akash Nandy and Eshan Pieris were paired together in the #25 Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II (running
for this race as #62) while Henk Kiks and Adisak Tangphuncharoen were put together in the sister #26 Audi.
That made Silver-Silver and Bronze-Bronze line-ups, respectively, able to slot straight into the series’ GT3S and GT3AM classes.
It gave all the drivers a clear chance to shine and they took up the opportunity with both hands. The black and yellow cars were in the thick of the action in both races, which really exploded into life and were drama-filled.
The two 1-hour races turned out to be highly productive with Nady and Pieris finishing P2 in GT3S on Saturday and then repeating that feat with another big effort on Sunday. They didn’t enjoy a moment’s rest as the action played out from green lights to chequered flag. The pair soaked up the pressure, didn’t give an inch and really showcased just why the team sees these as two stars of the future.
For Kiks and Tangphuncharoen in the #26 Audi, there were trips to the podium on both days after tenacious drives that more than proved they can compete with the best AM drivers at this level.
Kiks put all his vast experience to good use to keep the #26 Audi with the track position it needed while for Tangphuncharoen, our star of the future whose career is on an upward trend, it was an opportunity to race amongst the world’s best drivers. This is the level he has to attain to in the future. More silverware for the trophy cabinet too!
This race was also a huge test of the commitment and strength of this team as they came straight from the Marina Bay Street Circuit where they had competed in the Singapore Grand Prix’s GT support race the weekend before, a hugely successful foray as they won both races. The cars and equipment made a whistle stop journey north to the Sepang Circuit paddock. That everything went like clockwork and the cars were ready to go testing last Thursday, really demonstrates where B-Quik Absolute Racing stands as a race team.