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GT World Challenge Asia

FAW Audi, Origine Porsche Split Sepang Wins

Laurin Heinrich and Lu Wei take early points lead after Race 2 win; Franky Cheng and Adderly Fong win rain-hit opener…

Photo: GT World Challenge Asia

FAW Audi Sport Asia Racing Team and Origine Motorsport shared the wins in the opening round of the new Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS season at Sepang.

Chinese duo Franky Cheng and Adderly Fong prevailed in a delayed opening race on Saturday held in changeable weather in their No. 36 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II, before the No. 4 Origine Porsche 911 GT3 R of Laurin Heinrich and Lu Wei took a much more straightforward victory in Sunday’s finale.

A rain shower pushed back the start of Saturday’s race by an hour and split the field in terms of strategy, with 11 of the 32 cars taking the start on wet tires. Initially, this group, headed by the No. 6 VSR Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 of Ye Bian, made their way forwards, with Bian passing poleman Cheng for the lead within two laps.

On a drying track, the wet runners made their mandatory pit stops early in the window, with Bian handing over to Edoardo Liberati, but Liberati was passed by the No. 30 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Daniel Morad, who had taken over the car from teammate Cao Qi, another of the wet starters.

When Cheng pitted the Phantom Global Racing-run FAW Audi to hand over to Fong, he resumed in second between Morad and Liberati. But when Morad got caught out by a lapped car, Fong was able to muscle his way by his rival for the lead at Turn 11, with the contact leaving the Mercedes-AMG with a puncture.

That left Fong with a clear run to victory ahead of the VSR Lambo of Liberati, with the overall podium completed by the No. 87 Origine Porsche of Leo Ye Hongli and Yuan Bo.

Two more Porsche crews completed the top five, with the No. 93 Phantom Global Porsche of Bastian Buus and Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak leading Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello in the No. 1 Absolute Racing Porsche, a five-second penalty for Picariello reversing the on-the-road finishing positions of the two cars.

Heinrich and Wei followed up a seventh-place finish in the opening race with a dominant lights-t0-flag display on Sunday, heading the Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG of Morad and Qi by 14 seconds.

Third on the road was the Absolute Porsche of Liu and Picariello, but Liu was hit with a 33-second penalty for making contact with the No. 22 Climax Racing Mercedes-AMG of Wang Zhongwei at the final corner on the last lap.

That instead promoted the No. 77 Harmony Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 of Liang Jiatong and Luo Kailuo to the final spot on the podium, with Zhongwei and Ralf Aron ending up fifth behind the No. 888 Triple Eight JMR Mercedes-AMG of Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Jordan Love. Liu was demoted to 12th at the finish following his penalty.

Heinrich and Wei lead the championship on 31 points, two clear of Cheng and Fong. Hongli and Bo, who finished sixth in race two, are third, eight points down on the leaders.

Fanatec GT Asia returns to action for the second round of the season at Buriram in Thailand on May 11-12.

RESULTS: Race 1/Race 2

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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