Mercedes-AMGs On Top in GTWC Asia Opener
Triple Eight JMR and Craft-Bamboo Racing shared out the wins as Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos swept the opening round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS season at Buriram.
Luca Stolz and Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim prevailed in the opening 60-minute contest before Fabian Schiller and Anthony Liu delivered for Craft-Bamboo in Race 2 sharing their colorful No. 37 Mercedes-AMG.
After a wet start to the first race, Triple Eight brought Ibrahim into the pits earlier than his rivals in front, which helped to swing momentum in the Australian team’s favor.
With the track drying, Stolz took slick tires on his Mercedes-AMG and reversed a 14-second deficit into a 10-second lead once R&B Racing, AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing and Phantom Pro Racing had completed their later stops.
Stolz went on to win by nine seconds from Alessio Picariello in the AAS Porsche 911 GT3 R started by Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, while fellow Porsche squad R&B took third.
Picariello led the opening stint of the second race from Maximilian Goetz but his advantage was undone by a 10-second pit stop success penalty based on the previous result.
Goetz’s Craft-Bamboo co-driver Jeffrey Lee was the new leader after the pit window, which was partly covered by a safety car after Andrew Macpherson’s Porsche made heavy contact with the left-side barriers after a touch from another car.
Liu in the No. 37 Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG found a way past the GH-Team AAI BMW M4 GT3 of Junsan Chen after the restart and dispatched his teammate Lee at the final corner with six minutes to go.
That set the scene for Liu and Schiller’s victory, whereas Lee was involved in an accident that caused the race to be red-flagged. Kevin Chen in the other AAI BMW tapped Lee’s car into a spin at Turn 8 and Junsan Chen struck the rotated Mercedes-AMG.
However, Goetz and Lee kept second despite their race ending in contact because the results were taken from the previous lap before the red flag.
Penalty Denies Porsche Victory at Phillip Island
A five-second post-race time penalty denied Garnet Patterson and reigning champion Yasser Shahin a victory in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS round at Phillip Island.
The EMA Motorsport duo finished first on the road in the opener with their Porsche 911 GT3 R but were sanctioned for not maintaining the correct speed at a safety car restart.
That handed victory to Jayden Odeja and Ross Poulakis who delivered the first GTWC Australia win for the Harrolds Volante Rosso Motorsport Mercedes-AMG squad.
Shahin led the opening 20 minutes of Race 1 ahead of Liam Talbot in a Melbourne Performance Centre-prepared Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.
An off-track moment for Andrew Fawcet’s Audi caused a safety car, after which several drivers including Shahin pitted. As the Talbot Audi slid back during the stops, Odeja rose to second and his seven-second deficit to Patterson was erased by another safety car triggered by a mechanical problem for the Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
Patterson held off Odeja in the sprint to the checkered flag but was classified in fourth behind Grove Racing’s Porsche and the JAMEC Racing Audi, with the penalty applied.
The second race saw the JAMEC duo of Geoff Emery and Max Hofer reach the top step of the podium, leaving Hofer with the championship lead after three rounds.
Patterson and Odeja resumed their battle from Race 1 as Hofer sat in third until the Harrolds Volante Rosso driver found a way past the EMA Porsche at Miller Corner shortly before the pit stops.
A quicker service for the MPC-run JAMEC Audi resulted in Emery cycling to a lead that he would hold until the end, with Talbot and Fraser Ross taking second ahead of the EMA and Harrolds Volante Rosso pairings.
EMA actually finished second on the road but Shahin was given a five-second penalty for contact with Talbot as they squabbled with Poulakis for the podium positions.
RESULTS: Phillip Island
Other Racing Action & News
***Absolute Racing driver Hu Bo swept the second round of the GT Super Sprint Challenge round at Shanghai International Circuit. The driver of the No. 16 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II overcame his teammate ‘Vincent’ in the No. 5 Audi to win the opening race by just under two seconds. Race 1 / Race 2
***Grasser Racing Team has announced its return to ADAC GT Masters after one season out. The Austrian squad plans to enter a pair of Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2s, mirroring its involvement in the ADAC-run DTM. Lamborghini factory driver Marco Mapelli will team up with International GT Open champion Benjamin Hites in one of the lineups.
***Denis Bulatov set the fastest lap in last week’s official pre-season test for ADAC GT4 Germany at Oschersleben. Bulatov steered his EastSide Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 to a time of 1:30.162 on the morning of the second and final day. The test was attended by 14 teams and provided eight hours of running.
***Former FIA Formula 2 competitor Mahaveer Raghunathan will make his GT racing debut as part of Imperiale Racing’s lineup in the Italian GT Championship. The Indian driver has been confirmed alongside Jack Bartholomew and Miguel Garcia in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.
***British team 7TSIX has committed to the new McLaren Trophy series with experienced sports car racer Rob Barff and Danny Henrey. They will share a McLaren 570S in the single-make championship which also permits McLaren Arturas.
On this weekend: Nürburgring 24 (Nürburgring), Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Pirelli GT4 America, GT America powered by AWS (Circuit of The Americas)