MG Choi and Manuel Metzger secured theirs and Solite Indigo Racing’s maiden Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia victories by winning the weekend’s first race at Chang International Circuit on Saturday afternoon.
The Mercedes-AMG duo beat Absolute Racing’s Tanart Sathienthirakul and Philip Hamprecht by nine seconds thanks, in part, to the Porsche’s Success Penalty, while Weiron Tan and Martin Rump completed the podium aboard their Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute Racing R8 LMS GT3.
In GT4, meanwhile, Craft-Bamboo’s Jean-Marc Merlin held off Sunako Jukuchou to claim his and co-driver Frank Yu’s first victory since winning the class championship at Zhejiang in 2017. GTO Racing with TTR’s Brian Lee and Tony Fong finished third.
Choi hustled his way from seventh to second during the opening stint, while Sathienthirakul initially jumped from fourth to second before passing pole-sitter Darryl O’Young at Turn 3 on the opening lap.
The gap initially remained fairly small but had opened up to six seconds by the time the Thai driver made way for Hamprecht after 30 minutes.
The duo’s 15-second Pitstop Success Penalty for winning at Sepang ensured the German re-joined eight seconds behind Metzger after Choi pitted later in the 10-minute window.
The gap ebbed and flowed thereafter as both encountered traffic at different points but ultimately remained almost unchanged by the time Metzger – who missed Sepang through injury – maintained his 100% podium record after also twice finishing on the rostrum at Ningbo last season.
Behind, Hamprecht saw off Rump who spent much of the second stint trying to lap Alexandre Imperatori after the Panther/AAS Motorsport Porsche was delayed early on.
The Estonian, whose co-driver Tan pitted from seventh, finally elbowed his way past with less than 10 minutes remaining, by which time HubAuto Corsa’s Andre Heimgartner had made it a three-way podium scrap.
Yu, Merlin Break Through for GT4 Honors
It had been a long time coming. 14 races in fact. But Craft-Bamboo’s Yu and Merlin finally followed up their Zhejiang victory in October 2017 with another in Buriram this afternoon by denying BMW Team Studie a third-straight win.
Yu started third, dropped to fourth and worked his way back up to second behind Takayuki Kinoshita by the time the pit window opened after 25 minutes.
The BMW and Mercedes-AMG’s 15 and 10-second Success Penalties initially allowed GTO Racing with TTR’s Tony Fong to lead after the stops. However, he was quickly reeled in and passed by Merlin, who had emerged ahead of Sunako Jukuchou.
The Japanese driver also relieved Fong of second soon after but couldn’t match Merlin’s pace over the closing stages. 2.6s separated them at the finish.
Fong and TTR co-driver Brian Lee rounded out the podium, while tomorrow’s pole-sitting iRace.Win Mercedes-AMG shared by Ringo Chong and Setiawan Santoso was restricted to fourth after picking up a penalty.
Tomorrow’s race starts at 11:45 a.m. local time. Watch it live on the championship’s website and social media platforms.
RESULTS: Race 1